Compound lens from Johns Hopkins University is made of an array of microlenses with a wide viewing angle.

Benefits

  • High resolution
  • Low energy

Applications

  • Robotics
  • Medical devices
  • Autonomous vehicles

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Artificial compound eyes are beneficial for robotics and other applications that require a camera-like apparatus because of their simplicity and multifunctionality. They can be used by drones or robots to rapidly scan and image their surroundings. However, creating an artificial eye is difficult because it requires aligning different photoreceptive and optical components onto a curved surface.

Innovation Details

The researchers developed a liquid manufacturing process that creates compound lenses that mimic many of the features of a mosquito eye. First, multiple microlenses are coated in oil droplets surrounded by silica nanoparticles. The lenses are then arranged in a closely packed array around a larger oil droplet. The structure is then cured with UV light. The nanoparticles also have anti-fogging properties, which means the lens can function even in humid environments. The lens has an overall viewing angle of 149 degrees, similar to a mosquito eye.

 

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Biomimicry Story

Insects such as flies have compound eyes, which are curved arrays of microscopic lenses. Each individual lens captures an image and the brain then combines them all together. This allows the insect to achieve peripheral vision without having to move its eyes or head. This helps to save valuable energy for the organism.