Tiny camera fits on the head of a pin

Reconstructed Mona Lisa.jpg Photo: Alyosha Molnar Lab/Cornell University

A team working at Cornell university has built a microscopic camera with no lenses or moving parts. Costing "a few cents" to manufacture, the inventors claim it could revolutionize surgery and robotics.

Created from pieces of silicon doped to make them sensitive to light at different angles, the device has been dubbed the Planar Fourier Capture Array and applies the principles of the Fourier transform to compute images from the captured data.

Led by postdoctoral associate Patrick Gill, the group is working to improve the sensor, which generates images just a few pixels wide. Pictured above is a photograph of the Mona Lisa taken with the device.

"It's not going to be a camera with which people take family portraits, but there are a lot of applications out there that require just a little bit of dim vision," Gill said in a press release.

The work is funded by DARPA and the National Institutes of Health.