Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Better photos from your mobile

22.05.2007
Every year, between 600 and 800 million mobile telephones are sold all over the world. However, unlike ordinary cameras, mobile phone cameras are not equipped with autofocus.

Because of their small aperture, they already offer reasonable sharpness, but poor light can make it difficult to take pictures indoors, and the results are often out of focus. In the future, some mobile telephones will be equipped with two cameras, and we can also see a trend in the direction of functions such as autofocus and zoom becoming more and more common.

The Horton company Ignis Display saw interesting possibilities in this area, and it contacted SINTEF, which had some ideas about how this functionality could be transferred from ordinary camera to mobile telephones. A project is already under way, and as well as being able to focus extremely rapidly, the new lens will also be inexpensive and be of good optical quality.

“Eye-blink”

The idea is based in principle on the way that the eye functions with its own autofocus mechanism. In human beings, as in all mammals, the lens consist of a soft transparent substance. Round the lens is a muscle that controls the thickness of the lens according to the distance on which we wish to focus. For objects close to us, the muscle relaxes, so that the lens becomes thicker in the middle, while it contracts and the lens becomes thinner when we focus on objects at greater distances. Ignis Display’s new lens is also made of soft material, a low-density polymer that can be easily formed and that can change its shape almost like a muscle. The polymer is installed on a silicon circuit together with piezoelectric elements which convert electrical signals to mechanical forces and give the polymer whatever lens shape is required.

The scientists started by building a demonstration version of the lens with nuts and bolts and wires in order to demonstrate that the principle would work.

“Our first prototype will soon be ready for testing, and we will continue to improve and miniaturise it. This has been an interdisciplinary project in which our ceramics scientists have developed a robust and stable piezoelectric element, while the plastics scientists have been working on the polymer,” says senior scientist Dag T. Wang of SINTEF ICT.

Production

The next stage will be that scientists at Ignis Display and SINTEF – in collaboration with other partners – will continue the process of miniaturisation and the development of a suitable manufacturing technology.

The technology employed in making the lenses involves producing not just one lens or chip, but between one hundred and a thousand items at a time, depending on the size of the silicon wafer used. This approach is essential if Ignis Display is to compete on the international market with a reasonably priced product.

“We deposit material on silicon wafers that have space for a large number of chips. Then we place a mask over the wafer, create the pattern of the circuit on it by photolithography and etch it. We produce large numbers of identical circuits every time. What makes our production of micro-sized structures possible is the fact that we have been working on ceramics and piezoelectric materials in SINTEF for many years,” says Wang.

The people at Ignis Display bring together several wafers and install the polymer, before integrating the tiny lens module with the necessary electronics and other lens elements.

Growing market

Today, virtually all mobile telephones have at least one camera. Many people in the industry believe that it is only a matter of time until telephones will be equipped with two; one on each side, for conferences and presentations via mobile telephone. Given the steady increase in the number of mobile telephones sold, and a doubling of the number of cameras in each unit, there is obviously a lot of money to be made in this field.

Ignis Display ‘s technology has aroused a great deal of interest both in Norway and abroad. Although the company has several competitors, Ignis Display believe that it is likely that millions of mobile cameras will be taking photographs with its lenses within a few years.

By Jan Helstad/Åse Dragland.

Aase Dragland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sintef.no

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Smart Computers
21.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device
18.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>