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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The 'Origami' Lens

Engineers at UC San Diego have built a powerful yet ultrathin digital camera by folding up the telephoto lens. This technology may yield lightweight, ultrathin, high resolution miniature cameras for unmanned surveillance aircraft, cell phones and infrared night vision applications. The Applied Optics paper is set to be published tomorrow. The first author is Eric Tremblay.

"This type of miniature camera is very promising for applications where you want high resolution images and a short exposure time. This describes what cell phone cameras want to be when they grow up," said Joseph Ford, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCSD's Jacobs School, and who leads the camera project within UCSD's Photonic Systems Integration Lab. Read more at the link.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON with thanks to Kevin


Blogger Michael said...

Reminiscent of how catadioptric mirror lenses work, it seems to me.

8:54 AM  
Blogger PeterMQ said...

It will be interesting to see what the Bokeh is like on this lens, particularly given the small depth of field.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Dave M said...

Amazing. This is one of those, "slap your forehead and scream 'Why didn't I think of that?!?'" ideas.

Three things come to mind:

How will they contol abberations? (I imagine they will be able to make any of the internal surfaces aspheric in time.)

Could this technology be used to create a zoom lens? (Compressing/stretching the optic to increase/decrease it's diameter?)

How sensitive is this thing? (Given that the surface area collecting light is a small percentage of the overall optic, this might be the biggest challenge.)

Still, this is very, very cool.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Max said...

"...lightweight, ultrathin, high resolution..." AND short exposure times.
I think that describes what EVERY camera wants to be when it grows up!

6:48 PM  
Blogger Dibutil Ftalat said...

5mm x 8 passes makes 40mm focal distance (if we believe that the sensor is _very_ close to the lens, as shown). With the outer diameter of 60mm that makes a lens with aperture of f=0.66666... That aperture would characterize the depth of field, not light transmittance which in turn is equivalent to f=64! (1/8 of the radius is open to the light, that makes it 1/64th of the intake surface of the lens)

So we are having a lens with terribly short DOF, thin-ring-style bokeh and dim as f=64...

As the Christopher Lloyd's hero in "My Favorite Martian" was saying, while clamping the automatic picker for dog's shit: "I don't know what is this thing for, but it's COOL!" (sorry for the inaccurate quote :-)

10:22 PM  
Blogger inner curmudgeon said...

Net, but as michael points out, an evolution of the "cat" - donuts for bokeh.

Also, light gathering capability can't be great, despite the claim of low exposure time. It's only collecting light from the outer rim of the lens.

8:41 AM  

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