רחפן כימרה ThirdEye
A camera on a drone
Photo: ThirdEye
Camera lenses

Israeli research on thinnest lenses could shape technology's future

Hebrew University of Jerusalem develops a method to help advance the field of flat lens technology in what may be revolutionary for cellphones, virtual reality and drones

The Media Line |
Published: 04.04.22, 12:46
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in late February published groundbreaking research that could change lens technology forever, revolutionizing the industry and significantly reducing the cost of high-resolution cameras.
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  • Lenses in applications and devices such as eyeglasses, cameras, binoculars, and drones have historically been curved and bulky. With thick, heavy, and expensive lenses, devices can only advance so far.
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    Camera lenses
    Camera lenses
    Camera lenses
    (Photo: Eli Carmi, dtown)
    Scientists working for university research labs and companies like Intel, Meta, and Microsoft have worked to address this bottleneck in advancing technology, Professor Uriel Levy, director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, said.
    As a result, flat lenses will soon be widely seen on the market. A flat lens means a much smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective product. These factors will make flat lens technologies more attainable and therefore, provide the benefit and challenge of variety.
    Professor Uriel Levy and Dr. Jacob Engelberg of the Hebrew University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology developed a method to standardize flat lens characterizations. This method provides a solution for the arising challenge of selecting an appropriate flat lens for specific applications.
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    רחפן כימרה ThirdEye
    רחפן כימרה ThirdEye
    A camera on a drone
    (Photo: ThirdEye)
    Through ongoing research funded by Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry and the Israel Innovation Authority, Levy and Engelberg published important parameters for measuring and evaluating flat lens technologies. Dr. Aviv Zeevi, VP of Technology Infrastructure Division, Israel Innovation Authority, explained that the authority is an independent publicly funded agency that feels it is critical to collaborate between industry and academia to keep up with the competitive global market.
    He also said that “the specific project on flat lens technology can develop an applied technology that can create an economic and technological breakthrough in the areas of cellphones, virtual reality, augmented reality, and drones.”
    Levy recognized the difficulty of simulating the high level of performance seen in bulkier, more expensive lenses. The features are hard to duplicate in a lens Levy described as “small as a strand of hair,” without sacrificing quality, resolution, thickness, and weight. Some “flat” lenses were becoming thicker than comparable curved lenses to produce the same outcome. Therefore, standardized methods of comparison are highly important.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
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    המשקפת הדיגיטלית שתציג את מיקומי האויב בזמן אמת – למפקדי המחלקות והפלוגות
    IDF soldier holds a binoculars
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson Unit)
    A significant finding in Levy and Engelberg’s research determines how to properly measure resolution, which was a previous debate among the microtechnology community. When the resolution is properly measured, flat lenses can be more effectively evaluated. Levy spoke about the dynamics of light and lens design. The purpose of a curved lens is to bend the light coming from many different angles toward the same focal point.
    Manufacturers have managed to successfully direct light without a curve, but flat lenses are not one-size-fits-all. Levy and Engelberg’s method can help designers and manufacturers decipher which lens to use for a specific need, for example, outdoor use vs. indoor use.
    Levy believes his findings will expedite the integration of flat lens technology into the market moving forward. This technology could revolutionize many industries, such as photography and videography, telecommunications, computing, and optics.

    The story is written by Crystal Dunlap and reprinted with permission from The Media Line
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