Engineers create a camera that’s no bigger than a grain of salt

  • German engineers created a camera that is no bigger than a grain of salt
  • Researchers from the University of Stuttgart built the three-lens camera using 3-D printing
  • The camera can focus on images from a distance of 3.0 mm

A camera which is no bigger than a grain of salt was created by German engineers, and is seen as something that could change the future of health imaging and clandestine surveillance.

In an Agence France-Presse article that was posted on GMA News Online, it was disclosed that using 3-D printing, researchers from the University of Stuttgart built a three-lens camera and fit it onto the end of an optical fiber the width of two hairs. The 3-D printing makes three-dimensional objects by depositing layer after layer of materials such as plastic, metal or ceramic.

The “imaging system” fits comfortably inside a standard syringe needle, it was disclosed. This allows the camera for delivery into a human organ or even the brain.

According to the creators, the camera could be used as minimally-intrusive endoscopes for exploring inside the human body.

“Endoscopic applications will allow for non-invasive and non-destructive examination of small objects in the medical as well as the industrial sector,” the engineers noted.

The compound lens can also be printed onto image sensor other than optical fibers, such as those used in digital cameras.

Due to manufacturing limitations, however, the lenses cannot currently be made small enough for key uses in the medical field.

Took a few hours only

Meanwhile, the researchers said it took only a few hours to design, manufacture and test the tiny eye; which yielded “high optical performances and tremendous compactness.”

It was also revealed that the compound lens is just 100 micrometers wide, and 120 micrometers with its casing. It can focus on images from a distance of 3.0 mm, and relay them over the length of a 1.7-metre (5.6-foot) optical fiber to which it is attached.

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