Angle-Sensing, Bio-Inspired Photodetectors

What do the ears of geckos and the photodetecting pixels in your camera have in common? Both gain a big advantage when they can measure the direction of the source—and both are fundamentally limited by size. But while evolution has solved the problem for geckos with sound, it’s been tougher to come up with a nanoscale photodetector that can sense the angle of incoming light.

Now, inspired by geckos’ directional hearing, a U.S. engineering team has designed a subwavelength photodetector capable of measuring both the intensity and incident angle of light. These tiny detectors could eventually support advances in lensless cameras, augmented reality and robotic vision.

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