Endoscope from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences captures visible and near‑infrared light simultaneously to create high‑quality 3D images.


  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced error


  • Medical treatment
  • Medical diagnoses

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

The Challenge

Endoscopes are useful tools that allow doctors and surgeons to take 3D images from inside the body. Currently, the standard endoscope needs to be switched out when a doctor needs to see fluorescent images, which help locate diseased tissue. This switch increases chances of error and contamination, as well as a longer procedure for the patient.

Innovation Details

The bio-inspired medical endoscope can collect 3D visible light and near-infrared fluorescence images simultaneously. It does this by using two optical systems with a binocular design, similar to human eyes. The near-infrared wavelengths required for fluorescence imaging are detected by a sensor inspired by the eyes of mantis shrimp, which can simultaneously detect different wavelengths of light. The result is a high-resolution image that doctors can use to identify harmful tissue or areas to be avoided during surgery. The endoscope has a resolution as high as 7 line pairs per millimeter with visible light (the same as the best 3D endoscopes used today) and 4 line pairs per millimeter with near-infrared illumination.

Biomimicry Story

Humans have two eyes that work together to form binocular vision. This type of vision increases the amount of information and area that a human can survey.

The eyes of the mantis shrimp contain 16 photoreceptors (compared to four in humans) that are able to detect several different types of light, including UV and polarized light, simultaneously. Mantis shrimps can also detect six different types of polarized light, including horizontal, vertical, two diagonal types, and two types of circular polarization.