LG metalenses promise ultracompact phone cameras that may not stick out

LG is developing a novel ultrathin lens technology that it says can be applied to phone cameras as well, reports Korean media The Elec. Called metalenses, they eschew the bulky glass or plastic ones on current phones that present the bulk of the camera islands sticking out from out handsets.

The metalens is basically an ultrathin planar structure with nanoparticles scattered on it, which have the ability to shape-shift and focus light like regular lenses, but with the important caveat that the whole set can be made up to one micron thin.

LG says that together with academic research institutions it is developing a microlens that is 1/10,000th of the regular lens thickness and can find application anywhere where micro-cameras are needed.

LG Innotek’s CEO added that the company is trying “to implement an ultra-thin lens by replacing the refractive lens with a planar meta surface. To this end, the development of the preform (free form) meta surface unit structure and the optimal design of the unit structure arrangement must be carried out.”

Current phone camera lenses, especially ones that have huge sensors underneath like those on the new Xiaomi 12s Ultra, have the tendency to stick out like sore thumbs. Even liquid lenses with variable focus are simply a pouch with liquid inside and still huge compared to the metalens promise.

If LG manages to commercialize its metalens research, we will be in for much thinner phone cameras that might be flush with the rear surface for a change and shave off the ever-increasing weight of our giant handsets.

Samsung confirmed that it is also working on metalenses, so there could soon be veritable competition in the field, which can only benefit us mortal users.

Source: phonearena.com

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