'Origami lens' for cameras

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. "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 Ford. "Today's cell phone cameras are pretty good for wide angle shots, but because space constraints require short focal length lenses, when you zoom them in, they're terrible. They're blurry, dark, and low contrast."To reduce camera thickness but retain good light collection and high-resolution capabilities, Tremblay and colleagues replaced the traditional lens with a "folded" optical system that is based on an extension of conventional astronomical telescopes that employed mirrors, such as the Cassegrain telescope, which was developed in 1672.Instead of bending and focusing light as it passes through a series of separate mirrors and lenses, the new folded system bends and focuses light while it is reflected back and forth inside a single 5 millimeter thick optical crystal. The light is focused as if it were moving through a traditional lens system that is at least seven times thicker.

Source: physorg.comAdded: 21 February 2007