Caltech engineers have developed a type of camera that doesn’t require any lenses. They are replacing curved glass with something that does the same job computationally – an ultra-thin optical phased array.
Traditional cameras—even those on the thinnest of cell phones—cannot be truly flat due to their optics: lenses that require a certain shape and size in order to function. At Caltech, engineers have developed a new camera design that replaces the lenses with an ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA). The OPA does computationally what lenses do using large pieces of glass: it manipulates incoming light to capture an image.