Researchers at the University of Illinois have built a device that mimics the ocular systems found in dragonflies, bees, and other insects.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have created a digital camera that works like a bug’s eye. The interdisciplinary team used designs that mimic ocular systems found in dragonflies, bees, praying mantises, and other insects. This technology offers exceptionally wide-angle fields of view, with low aberrations, high acuity to motion, and nearly infinite depth of field.
The camera features a large array of tiny focusing lenses and miniaturized detectors in a hemisphere. It combines soft and rubbery optics with high performance silicon electronics and detectors.
These are formed on flat surfaces using advanced techniques adapted from the semiconductor industry and then bonded together with a lens sheet made from a polymer material similar to a contact lens. Pneumatic pressure then deforms this system into the desired hemispherical shape. Professor John A. Rogers said:
Full 180 degree fields of view with zero aberrations can only be accomplished with image sensors that adopt hemispherical layouts – much different than the planar CCD chips found in commercial cameras. When implemented with large arrays of microlenses, each of which couples to an individual photodiode, this type of hemispherical design provides unmatched field of view and other powerful capabilities in imaging. Nature has developed and refined these concepts over the course of billions of years of evolution.