US researchers have presented a new study which could see the need for lenses in laser projection removed altogether.

New laser projection technology that negates the need for lenses could be put to use in personal devices such as tablets and smartphones, researchers at Caltech, the California-based research and education institution, have found.

A silicon chip that functions as a lens-free projector has been developed and was showcased at the recent Optical Fiber Communication conference held in San Francisco. The chip was developed by Thomas G. Myers, professor of electrical engineering at Caltech and Ali Hajimiri, along with assistance from researchers.

The optical phased array’ technology that is used to project images is then integrated into the chip, allowing an image to be projected electronically using a single laser diode.

Mr Hajimiri told InAVate On The Net that his team ‘bent’ light waves on the chip’s surface without using lenses or mechanical movement.

He said: “By changing the relative timing of the waves, you can change the direction of the light beam.”

Another researcher on the team, Behrooz Abiri, added: “The new thing about our work is really that we can do this on a tiny, one-millimetre square silicon chip, and the fact that we can do it very rapidly – rapidly enough to form images, since we phase-shift electronically in two dimensions.”