Lytro Camera used to Observe Plasma Cloud Microparticles

A microparticle plasma cloud reconstructed using the Lytro LightField Camera (picture: Hartman et al. 2013) LightField Technology brings several never-before seen features to the world of imaging – most notably single-lens, single-exposure 3D data recording. The technology has been available for commercial and academic uses since 2011, when Raytrix announced their first commercial plenoptic camera.
With the introduction of Lytro’s LightField Camera in early 2012, there appeared a second option for LightField enthusiasts. Though less precise, the camera is significantly cheaper than its commercial counterpart, and so scientists have tried to use the consumer camera for their own scientific purposes.

Now, a team of physicists from Hungary have worked out a method to use the Lytro LightField Camera for three-dimensional imaging of microparticles in a small plasma cloud. The flat, circular cloud measured 14 mm across and contained 60 particles which were successfully reconstructed three-dimensionally using the LightField camera. The camera’s depth of field proved too small for the width of the plasma cloud, but peripheral particles are still resolved well enough for the scientists’ algorithms.
Peter Hartmann and colleagues have published their work in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments:

We have worked out the details of a single camera, single exposure method to perform three-dimensional imaging of a finite particle cluster. The procedure is based on the plenoptic imaging principle and utilizes a commercial Lytro light field still camera.
We demonstrate the capabilities of our technique on a single layer particle cluster in a dusty plasma, where the camera is aligned and inclined at a small angle to the particle layer. The reconstruction of the third coordinate (depth) is found to be accurate and even shadowing particles can be identified.

Peter Hartmann, István Donkó, and Zoltán Donkó (2013): Single exposure three-dimensional imaging of dusty plasma clusters. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 84.

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