April 27, 2006

other tech: powerful artificial eyes based on insect eyes

U.S. scientists say they've created super-powerful artificial eyes inspired by those of dragonflies and other insects. The artificial eyes are the first hemispherical, three-dimensional optical systems to integrate microlens arrays -- thousands of tiny lenses packed side by side -- with self-aligned, self-written "waveguides," which are light-conducting channels created by beams of light, Lee explained.

He and his colleagues also created a low-cost, easy-to-replicate technique of creating pinhead-sized polymer resin domes spiked with thousands of light-guiding channels, each topped with its own lens.

The Berkley eyes may eventually be used as cameras or sensory detectors to collect visual or chemical information from a far wider field of vision than is currently possible, Lee said.

Potential applications for the artificial compound eyes include surveillance; high-speed motion detection; environmental sensing; medical procedures (such as image-guided surgery) that require cameras; and clinical treatments that can be controlled by implanted light delivery devices.

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