Will Knight in New Scientist:
Conventional camera lenses cannot be shrunk below a few millimetres in thickness before reducing the field of view. But a compound lens, made from hundreds of tiny “micro lenses”, can be made around one-tenth of the width, while retaining the same field of view and quality of image.
A prototype compound eye, consisting of scores of polymer micro-lenses has now been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Germany, Swiss company SUSS MicroOptics and the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland.
The 2-millimetre-thick prototype has 21 light-channelling components, each of which contains three separate lenses. Each individual lens points in a slightly different direction and projects part of the image on to a photo sensor. “Each channel is, in effect, a pinhole camera,” says Andreas Bräuer at the Fraunhofer Institute.