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Scientists work on lensless camera

Scientists are working on a "lensless camera".

Engineers at California Institute of Technology have created a camera computer chip, which measures just 1mm x 1mm, that could revolutionise the smartphone industry by allowing phone makers to swap the bulky phone camera lens for this thinner one.

It works by converting light signals into pictures, by delaying the way that light has been captured on the chip. It has a number of light sensors that can each add a time delay to the light. This allows it to focus without a lens.

Lead researcher Professor Ali Hajimiri said: "We've created a single thin layer of integrated silicon photonics that emulates the lens and sensor of a digital camera, reducing the thickness and cost of digital cameras.

"It can mimic a regular lens, but can switch from a fish-eye to a telephoto lens instantaneously - with just a simple adjustment in the way the array receives light."

The team have currently created a lensless camera that can take a low resolution picture of a barcode but it is thought with more sensors packed into the small grid, the image could be made much sharper.

Meanwhile, another set of researchers previously revealed they are working on improving the smartphone by making it self-healing, having been inspired by Wolverine.

Professor Chao Wang said at the time: "When I was young, my idol was Wolverine from the X-Men. He could save the world, but only because he could heal himself.

"A self-healing material, when carved into two parts, can go back together like nothing has happened, just like our human skin. I've been researching making a self-healing lithium ion battery, so when you drop your cell phone, it could fix itself and last much longer."

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