Researchers created a camera with a curved, adaptable imaging sensor that could improve image quality in endoscopes, night vision goggles, artificial compound eyes, and fish-eye cameras. Kirigami, the Japanese art of paper cutting, was used to create the camera.
Existing curvy imagers are stretchable but have low pixel density and pixel fill factors, or they are flexible but need to be compatible with tunable focal surfaces. The new imager with the Kirigami design has a high pixel fill factor of 78% before stretching and can maintain its optoelectronic performance while being biaxially stretched by 30%.
Complex and bulky lenses are required to correct optical aberrations in modern digital camera systems that use rigid, flat imaging sensors. Like the human eyeball, the curvy camera can work with a single lens while correcting aberrations and providing other benefits like a wide field of view and compact size. The curvy and shape-adaptive cameras with high pixel fill factors were created by transferring an array of ultrathin silicon pixels with a Kirigami design onto curvy surfaces using conformal additive stamp (CAS) printing, a manufacturing technology developed by the researchers.
The researchers used the kirigami principle to cut a thin sheet of imaging sensors, allowing it to stretch and curve. This new kirigami structure has a much higher fill factor than other stretchable structure designs, such as thin open-mesh serpentine or island-bridge structures. It means it retains high pixel density, resulting in higher-quality images. They make the camera curvy and shape-adaptive, allowing it to capture objects at various distances.
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