Parasite Eyes Inspire Ultrathin Camera

Researchers in South Korea have engineered an ultrathin digital camera based on the eye structure of Xenos peckii, a type of wasp parasite.

AsianScientist (Jan. 8, 2019) – Inspired by the visual system of the Xenos peckii, a parasite that lives inside paper wasps, scientists in South Korea have developed an ultrathin digital camera. Their findings are published in the journal Light: Science & Applications.

Due to the miniaturization of electronic and optical devices, the demand for ultrathin digital cameras has increased in recent years. However, most camera modules use multiple lenses along the optical axis to compensate for optical aberrations, resulting in a larger volume as well as a thicker total track length of digital cameras. Resolution and sensitivity would be compromised if these modules were to be simply reduced in size and thickness.

To address this issue, scientists led by Professor Jeong Ki-Hun of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology developed micro-optical components that mimic the visual system of X. peckii. They combined these components with a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor to build an ultrathin digital camera.

The camera, measuring less than 2 mm in thickness, emulates the eyes of X. peckii by using dozens of microprism and microlens arrays. Each microprism and microlens pair form a channel, and the light-absorbing medium between the channels reduces optical crosstalk. Each channel captures the partial image at slightly different orientation, and the retrieved partial images are combined into a single image, thereby ensuring a wide field of view and high resolution.

“We have proposed a novel method of fabricating an ultrathin camera. As the first insect-inspired, ultrathin camera that integrates a microcamera on a conventional CMOS image sensor array, our study will have a significant impact in optics and related fields,” said Jeong.

The article can be found at: Keum et al. (2018) Xenos peckii Vision Inspires an Ultrathin Digital Camera.


Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Photo: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
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