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A New Lightfield 3D Camera without Microlenses

A revolutionary camera that can record full lightfield 3D images and video is under development at the University of Michigan. Faster, better, smaller...

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A Multilayer Lightfield Camera

One-shot 3D cameras available now rely on a micro-lens array to divert the light after it has been focused by the main lens. This array of smaller lenses essentially tears up the picture to recover the directional information from the rays of light, and then the camera's software reconstructs the image along with the depth information. The design—to be developed by Zhong and colleagues Theodore Norris and Jeffrey Fessler, both professors of electrical engineering and computer science—does away with the micro-lens array. Instead, their camera will record the light as it passes through a series of transparent light detectors.

"The microlens approach involves an inherent trade-off between resolution and the ability to refocus or resolve depth," Norris said. "Our stack approach enables more information to be acquired without losing image resolution."

Soon in your smartphone?

"Ordinarily, you want the light detector to absorb as much light as possible for high sensitivity, to produce a clearer picture," Zhong said. "Graphene detectors can offer very high sensitivity, so you don't really sacrifice the clarity by making them transparent."

The team is considering an SLR-sized camera to begin with, but Norris thinks it may be possible to squeeze 3D-camera capability into a smartphone.

A first result of this approach applied to infrared detectors was published two years ago (read more here).

 About Zhaohui Zhong

Zhaohui Zhong is principal investigator at the Nanoelectronics and Nanophotonics Lab . He is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from Nanjing University in 1998 and 2000, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University in 2005. From 2005 to 2008, he was a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University Center for Nanoscale Systems. He joined the faculty of EECS at the University of Michigan in 2008. He is a recipient of ACS Petroleum Fund Doctoral New Investigator and NSF CAREER award. His research lies on the frontiers of nanoelectronics and nanophotonics.. Visit his page for more.

 

Source: University of Michigan.