Microcamera promises disposable endoscopes

March 25, 2011
Berlin, Germany--A new production process promises to make microcameras so cheap they can be considered disposable. The tiny camera is small enough to fit on the tip of a medical endoscope, meaning disposable endoscopes could be on the market by next year, according to the developers.
Berlin, Germany--A new production process promises to make microcameras so cheap they can be considered disposable. The tiny camera is small enough to fit on the tip of a medical endoscope, meaning disposable endoscopes could be on the market by next year, say the developers.

Developed at the
Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) in conjunction with Awaiba GmbH and with support from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany, the cameras are fabricated using a new wafer-level process.

Digital cameras consist of two components: a lens and a sensor that transforms the image into electrical signals. Until now the image sensor chips have been fabricated simultaneously on a wafer, like computer chips, with about 28,000 sensors per wafer. The lens and necessary electrical connections are added to the individual sensor chips after the wafer has been diced—meaning 28,000 separate wiring and mounting operations. One reason for this is that the electrical connections have been made to the side of the individual chips.

The researchers at IZM have streamlined this process by developing a new way to make the electrical connections, meaning the wiring process is faster and the entire camera is smaller. By making the connection to the back side of the chips, all the chips can be electrically connected simultaneously while they are still on the wafer (before dicing). That also means the lenses do not have to be mounted individually--instead, they can be mounted to the image sensor wafers as lens wafers. Only then is the stack of wafers diced into individual microcameras.

The new microcamera is small enough for the tip of a medical endoscope, with a resolution of 62,500 pixels. Information is transmitted through the endoscope via an electrical cable.

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

Current medical endoscopes are expensive and, because they are used multiple times, must be put through time-consuming cleaning and sterilization procedures every time they are used. Martin Wilke, a scientist at IZM, says “we can [now] produce microcameras so inexpensively with our technology that doctors can dispose of endoscopes after using them only once.”

“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,” said Voltz.
.
Meantime, the automotive industry is also interested in this tiny camera. They are currently researching the possibility of replacing the external rearview mirrors on cars with microcameras, thereby reducing both flow resistance and energy consumption. Beyond this, installed in fittings, this camera could also watch a driver’s eye movements and prevent her from nodding off for a few seconds.

Source:
Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and MicrointegrationPosted by:Steve AndersonSubscribe nowtoLaser Focus Worldmagazine; It’s free!
Follow us on Twitter

Sponsored Recommendations

Optical Power Meters for Diverse Applications

April 30, 2024
Bench-top single channel to multichannel power meters, Santec has the power measurement platforms to meet your requirements.

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a Micro 3D Printed Benchmark Part: Send us your file.

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!