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Bug's eye inspires hemispherical digital camera
Date:5/2/2013

in materials and fabrication strategies allowing construction of artificial ommatidia in large, interconnected arrays in hemispherical layouts. Building such systems represents a daunting task, as all established camera technologies rely on bulk glass lenses and detectors constructed on the planar surfaces of silicon wafers which cannot be bent or flexed, much less formed into a hemispherical shape.

"A critical feature of our fly eye cameras is they incorporate integrated microlenses, photodetectors and electronics on hemispherically curved surfaces," said Jianliang Xiao, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at University of Colorado Boulder and coauthor of the study. "To realize this outcome, we used soft, rubbery optics bonded to detectors/electronics in mesh layouts that can be stretched and deformed, reversibly and without damage."

Xiao is a former doctoral student of Huang's at Northwestern who then went on to work as a postdoctoral researcher in Rogers' lab at Illinois.

The fabrication starts with electronics, detectors and lens arrays formed on flat surfaces using advanced techniques adapted from the semiconductor industry, Xiao said. The lens sheet -- made from a polymer material similar to a contact lens -- and the electronics/detectors are then aligned and bonded together. Pneumatic pressure deforms the resulting system into the desired hemispherical shape, in a process much like blowing up a balloon, but with precision engineering control.

The individual electronic detectors and microlenses are coupled together to avoid any relative motion during this deformation process. Here, the spaces between these artificial ommatidia can stretch to allow transformation in geometry from planar to hemispherical. The electrical interconnections are thin and narrow, in filamentary serpentine shapes; they deform as tiny springs during the stretching process.

According to the researchers, each microlens produces
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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