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Flexible Lens Developed for Future Flexible Cameras


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Currently thin is in for many devices, including phones, tablets, and laptops, but in the future we may see flexibility become the physical feature of choice. For some technologies this makes sense, as the flexibility can allow it to be deployed in more places by wrapping around any object. Researchers at Columbia University are working towards flexible cameras and have recently developed a flexible lens array without aliasing artifacts.

One way to create a flexible lens array is to attach rigid lenses with fixed focal length to a flexible material, but it has a significant flaw. As the material is bent, gaps will form between the lenses' fields of view. The researchers solved this problem by making the lenses themselves flexible, so the bending alters the focal length as needed. This prevents any gaps, or aliasing artifacts from forming, and it was achieved passively by optimizing the geometry and material properties of the silicone used, so no special mechanical or electrical systems are needed.

This lens is just half of a flexible camera as a large-format flexible detector also has to be developed. Once that is created though, the new class of cameras will have many new applications not currently possible with rigid cameras, and we could potentially see them made cheaply, like a roll of plastic.



Source: Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

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