Soon, disposable cameras as small as grain of salt!

A new microcamera has been developed to reduce the downsides of existing endoscopes.

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2011, 14:03 PM IST

Washington: A new microcamera has been developed to reduce the downsides of existing endoscopes.

Endoscopes to date have some negative aspect, since they are expensive and, because of their multiple usages, have to be put through time-consuming and exhaustive cleaning procedures every time they are used.

This problem might be solved by a new microcamera that the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) in Berlin, Germany has developed together with Awaiba GmbH and with the support of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany.

“We can produce microcameras so inexpensively with our technology that doctors can dispose of endoscopes after using them only once,” said Martin Wilke, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration.

This is made possible by a new type of manufacturing process.

The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration have streamlined this process by developing a new way to access the electrical contacts. Now, the wiring process is faster and the entire camera system is smaller.

The trick lies in the fact that they do not reach the contacts of each individual image sensor via the side any more but rather, simultaneously, with all sensors via their reverse side while they are still connected as a wafer. That means that you no longer have to mount the individual lenses. Instead, you can connect them with the image sensor wafers as lens wafers.

Only then is the stack of wafers sawed apart into individual microcameras. Another upside is the fact that it supplies razor-sharp pictures even with very thin endoscopes.

The new microcamera is small enough for the tip of the endoscope. It has a resolution of 62,500 pixels and transmits the image information through the endoscope via an electrical cable.

Stephan Voltz, who is the CEO of Awaiba GmbH, said that, “at 1.0 times 1.0 times 1.0 millimeters, this camera is as small as coarsely ground grain of salt – the smallest camera that we are aware of.”

Voltz is happy about the wide range of possible applications: “Starting in 2012, using Fraunhofer’s expertise, we will be able to bring disposable endoscopes to market for only a few euros – we already have the prototype.”

ANI