New Lens May
Revolutionize Photography
By Les Perreaux
Canadian Press
QUEBEC -- Quebec researchers have created a new lens they say could revolutionize photography by allowing the smallest cameras to take crystal-clear zoom photos.
The new lens, one-fifth as thick as a sheet of paper, can zoom and focus with no moving parts, potentially eliminating the distortion caused by digital zoom and the bulky glass of conventional optical lens.
Tigran Galstian, an engineer and physicist at Laval University who has patented the new lens, says his invention could drastically improve the blurry photos taken by small cameras.
Dr. Galstian said the lens would work in cellphone cameras that take notoriously poor quality images.
"We have found an elegant and simple solution," said Dr. Galstian, who is now looking for an industrial partner to help build a prototype and overcome remaining technical hurdles.
"Right now we're guessing what industry needs and we'd love to work with them on what they really want."
Fred Greenslade, a sports and wildlife photographer in Portage la Prairie, Man., is intrigued by the invention.
Like most professional photographers, Mr. Greenslade carries several heavy lens on most assignments and must switch constantly for different conditions.
"It sounds like something a photographer would dream up," said Mr. Greenslade.
"I'll believe it when I see it but it sounds great. I guess I'd have a few questions. Is it going to work? How fast will it be? What's the quality going to be?
"But it sounds, in theory, like the best thing to have."
Dr. Galstian's lens adds a light-sensitive compound to a thin sheet of liquid crystals, eliminating the need for the finely ground glass of conventional photographic equipment.
When the sheet is zapped with a laser beam, the centre becomes denser than the edges of the lens.
Small jolts of electricity change the material in the lens to bend light and adjust focus and zoom.
Conventional photographic lens move two pieces of curved glass to zoom or focus, requiring bulky lens for top quality close-ups.
Many small digital cameras zoom with computer processors, losing a lot of picture quality in the process.
Dr. Galstian and associate Vladimir Presnyakov published their research in the current edition of the Journal of Applied Physics.
The lens could eventually be adapted for super-lightweight eyeglasses that could be adjusted for focal length, eliminating the need for bi-focals, Dr. Galstian said.
"In the short-term, we are focusing on cellphones but in the long term we think there could be many uses," Dr. Galstian said.
Dr. Galstian said researchers in France are working on a "competing technology" that uses electricity and a liquid droplet.
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