Ultra-Thin Camera Design Uses Array of Light Instead of a Lens

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a new camera design  that replaces traditional lenses with an ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA). The OPA does computationally what lenses do using pieces of glass - it manipulates incoming light to capture an image. Conventional cameras, even those in the thinnest cellphones, cannot be truly flat because of their optics. "The applications are endless," says graduate student and project team member Behrooz Abiri. "Even in today's smartphones, the camera is the component that limits how thin your phone can get. Once scaled up, this technology can make lenses and thick cameras obsolete. It may even have implications for astronomy by enabling ultra-light, ultra-thin enormous flat telescopes on the ground or in space."