Hybrid Meta Optics will boost your photos

Hybrid Meta Optics will boost your photos

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

Hybrid meta-optics takes high-grade photos without bulky, conventional optics

Using the kind of light-warping physics that make “invisibility cloaks” possible, scientists have developed a small, lightweight camera that can take photos as good as or better than commercial digital cameras more than 100 times as large in volume, for potential use in smartphones and other portable devices, a new study finds.

In the new study, the researchers explored a “hardware in the loop” strategy in which they ran experiments using actual lenses and sensors instead of computationally modeling how these components might behave. This helped dramatically reduce the processing demands of developing meta-optics by at least a hundredfold and the memory needs by at least tenfold, the researchers note.

The resulting hybrid meta-optics consisted of a standard refractive lens 4.5 millimeters thick covered with a quartz meta-optic film 500 µm thick coated in square silicon nitride pillars 700 nanometers high. In experiments, the scientists used the hybrid meta-optics and computational imaging techniques to capture photos of images 0.5 to 1.8 meters away.

The new single-lens device took full-color pictures whose quality was as good or better than ones captured by a commercial Sony Alpha 1 III mirrorless camera with a Sony SEL85F18 compound lens, the researchers say.

“This hardware-in-the-loop methodology is able to produce better optics compared with the state-of-the-art,” says study coauthor Vladimir Katkovnik, also at Tampere University.

At the same time, the new device was less than 1 percent of the volume of the Sony system.

Take a ‘snapshot’ of this new technology here

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