What could be done with a lens-free camera that is half a millimeter square and 100th of a millimeter thick with a 20 pixel diagonal resolution?


From the Cornell University lab of Alyosha Molnar comes the "Planar Fourier Capture Array" (PFCA) camera. Using the principles of Fourier transforms, information can be captured in many ways. Each pixel in the PFCA reports the Fourier transform of a unique blend of incident angles. In other words, a direct image is not taken. Instead a little bit of math can transform the Fourier components into the picture.


The PFCA was developed as a side project to image brain activity by group leader and postdoctoral associate Patrick Gill. The camera is doped silicon disc with no moving parts or off-chip manufacturing steps.  As a result it is small, light, and only costs a few cents to make. And currently the team seeks to increase the resolution and efficiency.


How I would put this new camera to work. Using sixteen of these cameras together would give an adequate resolution and favorable size for use in the Mermaid medical robot. Two millimeters is easier to take than comparably monstrous 10 millimeter diameter the robot is now.