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A Better 3D Camera With Clear, Graphene Light Detectors

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An illustration showing how the new 3D camera will be designed to work.

A new camera taking a three-dimensional photo of a University of Michigan solar car.

Credit: Stephen Alvey/Michigan Engineering

A University of Michigan (U-M)team is developing a three-dimensional (3D) camera that should be smaller than current models on the market while supporting higher resolutions.

Although 3D movie filming makes use of multiple cameras to reconstruct each frame, the new camera would record in 3D on its own.

One-shot cameras that are available rely on a micro-lens array to divert the light after it has been focused by the main lens, but the team's camera will record the light as it passes through a series of transparent light detectors.

Graphene can be fashioned into a highly sensitive light detector that allows much of the light to pass through. "Graphene detectors can offer very high sensitivity, so you don't really sacrifice the clarity by making them transparent," says U-M professor Zhaohui Zhong.

His team believes 3D camera capability can be squeezed into a smartphone, and images and videos recorded by 3D cameras might one day be projected as holograms.

"The microlens approach involves an inherent trade-off between resolution and the ability to refocus or resolve depth," says co-researcher Theodore Norris. "Our stack approach enables more information to be acquired without losing image resolution."

From University of Michigan News Service
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