Samsung, the world’s second-biggest smartphone camera sensor brand, revealed its first dedicated camera sensor for automobiles earlier today. It also received a contract worth half a billion dollars from Tesla for Cybertruck’s cameras. Now, the South Korean firm has revealed that it is working on flat ‘metalens’ technology to make smartphone cameras even thinner.
Speaking at the Nano Korea 2021 industry event, a Samsung Electro-Mechanics executive mentioned that the company is working on metalens, a flat lens system that uses nano-sized particles instead of curved lenses to bend light waves. This technology can replace complex multi-lens systems with a single lens, resulting in much thinner camera structures. If the technology becomes successful, we can see smartphone cameras that don’t have ridiculously big camera bumps.
A Harvard University study from 2016 showcased the metalens technology. It involved a single layer of transparent quartz (thinner than a human hair) coated with millions of tiny pillars of titanium dioxide (called towers or pillars). Those pillars were arranged in such a way that when light hits them, it gets sliced up and focused.
Several other studies are being performed to develop a robust metalens technology. An MIT project developed a metalens system that has no moving parts but could still focus on objects. A group of scientists from the University of Ottawa created a system that includes a metalens and a ‘spaceplate’ to eliminate modern optics from large-sized cameras. A startup called Metalenz is using Harvard University’s tech to develop metalenses for smartphones.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics hopes to create a metalens mechanism that replaces curved optics in smartphone cameras. This system uses nanoparticles that are placed between the camera’s glass and the lens. When the technology is completely developed, the company hopes to use it first in its own products, but it also has plans to supply metalenses to other firms. With Samsung’s push, metalens tech could go mainstream in the smartphone space.