The Nikon D80 update (version 1.01) corrects the following:
Researchers Develop Ultra-slim Imager
Ok, so it's essentially a "lens", but doesn't meet the technical definition of a lens, so researchers at UC San Diego are trying to make sure that they define their new deveopment correctly by calling it an "imager" or "folded optic." Their new imager, which is 5mm thick, produces similar results as a standard 38mm lens. In more general terms, Eric Tremblay, first author listed on the research paper in Applied Optics, says that "Our imager is about seven times more powerful than a conventional lens of the same depth." The folded optic can be applied in "lightweight, ultrathin, high resolution miniature cameras for unmanned surveillance aircraft, cell phones and infrared night vision applications."
The folded optic system is not a new concept as it has been used on astronomical telescopes like the Cassegrain telescope, which was developed in 1672. However, better manufacturing/tooling techniques have made it more feasible to create an accurate imager.
Light enters the outermost ring of the folded optic and essentially zig-zags back and forth between rings of mirrors which focus the light by the time it reaches a CMOS sensor in the center of the imager. For a great diagram, see the link below for more information.
The working imager that the research group has perfected, as similar quality and color when compared to the same image taken with a standard 38mm lens. One downside is that the folded optic has a much shorter depth of field. The next steps of the research group (and their next paper), will address this issue.
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