Ultrathin Digital Camera Emulates Insect Eyes

The visual system of Xenos peckii, an endoparasite of paper wasps, differs from the compound eyes of most insects in terms of sensitivity and resolution. Inspired by their unique features, a team created an ultrathin digital camera that mimics Xenos peckii’s unique eyes.

Compared to existing imaging systems, the ultrathin digital camera has a broader field of view and higher resolution in a slimmer body. It supports various applications, including monitoring equipment, medical imaging devices, and mobile imaging systems.

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

To address this issue, the researchers created micro-optical components inspired by Xenos peckii’s visual system. They combined them with a CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensor to create an ultrathin digital camera. This new camera, less than 2mm thick, uses dozens of micro prism and microlens arrays to mimic the eyes of Xenos peckii.

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