Biologically Inspired Ultrathin Camera

An insect’s compound eye has superior visual charac­teristics such as wide viewing angle, high motion sensi­tivity, and large depth of field while main­taining a small volume of visual structure with a small focal length. Among them, Xenos peckii, an endo­parasite of paper wasps, eyes have hundreds of photo­receptors in a single lens unlike conven­tional compound eyes with a few light-sensing cells in an individual eyelet. This unique structure offers higher visual resolution than other insect eyes. The Xenos peckii eye also perceives partial images through pigmented cups that block incoming light between eyelets.

New prototype of a biologically inspired ultrathin arrayed camera. (Source: K. Kim et al)

Inspired from Xenos peckii eye structure, a KAIST research team led by Jeong Ki-Hun demons­trated a fully packaged ultrathin insect eye camera. They developed a unique and new configuration of micro-optical element to com­pletely suppress the optical noise between micro­lenses while reducing camera thickness. This optical component was integrated with a comple­mentary metal oxide semi­conductor (CMOS) image sensor and the final thickness of fully packaged camera lens is only 740 μm.

The fully packaged ultrathin arrayed camera has success­fully demons­trated high contrast clear array images acquired from tiny micro­lenses. To further enhance image quality of the captured image, they have discussed the vision principle of insect eye and combined the array images into one image through super-resolution imaging. This work also shows the first demons­tration of super-resolution imaging, which acquires a single integrated image with high contrast and high resolving power recon­structed from high contrast array images.

“This work reports the first demons­tration of ultrathin arrayed camera for high contrast and super resolution imaging. We strongly believe our study will make solely technical advances and also have signi­ficant impacts on multi­disciplinary communities of micro and nano­technology mining the smartness from natural photonic structures,” said Jeong. (Source: CAS)

Reference: K. Kim et al.: Biologically inspired ultrathin arrayed camera for high-contrast and high-resolution imaging, Light Sci Appl 9, 28 (2020); DOI: 10.1038/s41377-020-0261-8

Link: Dept. of Bio and Brain Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon, Republic of Korea

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