Scientists 3D Print Cameras the Size of a Grain of Salt

Andrew LaSane
Timo Gissibl
Timo Gissibl / Timo Gissibl

A team of researchers from the University of Stuttgart has developed a camera that's smaller than a grain of salt. The team, which published their findings in Nature Photonics, used 3D printing technology to create the three-lens camera, which is only .012 millimeters wide and has the ability to focus on objects that are 3mm away.

The micro camera system is small enough to fit into the tip of a syringe, which the researchers say could allow for "non-invasive and not-destructive" internal examinations. Images taken with the system are transferred via an optical fibre the size of two human hairs, according to "The time from the idea, the optics design, a CAD model, to the finished, 3D printed micro-objectives is going to be less than a day," Professor Harald Giessen said in a statement [PDF]. "We are going to open potentials just like computer-aided design and computer-integrated manufacturing did in mechanical engineering a few years ago."

In addition to their medical uses, the micro cameras could be used for micro robotics and surveillance, though the focus range of the lenses would have to increase.

[h/t The Verge]

Images via University of Stuttgart / Timo Gissibl