Thursday, June 22, 2017

Caltech Presents OPA Camera

Caltech Professor Ali Hajimiri with graduate students present Optical Phase Array (OPA)-based camera: "What the camera does is similar to looking through a thin straw and scanning it across the field of view. We can form an image at an incredibly fast speed by manipulating the light instead of moving a mechanical object." Their OSA paper "An 8x8 Heterodyne Lens-less OPA Camera" explains the principle:

The OPA chip placed on a penny for scale.


  1. Once again very interesting research from Hajimiri's team. The disappointment I have with Caltech is that none of this ever seems to materialize into anything tangible that we can actually buy and use in our designs. For example see That sensor looks amazing but can you actually buy one? No, and nothing more has been said about it. I dont just want to keep reading about interesting research I actually want to get my hands on this technology so I can make something useful with it. Surely I'm not the only one who gets frustrated when this great technology is not being commercialised?

    1. Isn't this technology used by Caltech spinoff Strobe LiDAR? It still has chances to materialize:

      Talking about the original OPA article, I was not able to see any optical transmission data there. Other OPAs have transmission in range of 5% to 50%. If one starts from losing 50-95% of photons, the usefulness of this camera would be quite limited.

    2. The adjective "academic" is not out there without a reason. Academic project are done for different reasons and with different mindset and constraints than commercial ones, and are measured by different metrics. The primary goal of academia is to train students - not to develop commercial technology. The deliverables are papers and grant applications, plus eventually graduate degrees. Projects need to be structured to be executable by small, on-the-road-to-experience teams within acceptable time limits. Most of the results are academic, and far from having commercial potential - althought there is the occasional exception.


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