If you’ve ever wanted to take photographs of the inside of your spleen, you may be in luck. Scientists at the University of Stuttgart in Germany have created a camera so tiny it can be injected into your body through a syringe.
Using something called a “femtosecond direct laser writing system,” they 3D printed a three-part lens, no bigger than a grain of salt, onto the end of a fiber optic cable the width of two human hairs. The researchers say the device could be injected into previously difficult areas to photograph such as inside an organ–even the brain–and pave the way for next-generation endoscopes (those snake-like devices surgeons use to glimpse your insides).
Once in the body, the camera can take high quality images of tissue just 3 millimeters from the lens. Until now, such tiny, high quality lenses were impossible to make. But remarkably, the researchers say, they designed, built, and tested the tiny camera in just a few hours.
The camera could have other uses as well, including for incognito security systems or vision for micro-robots.
The process was described in the journal Nature Photonics.