If you’ve ever tried to swat a fly, you know that insects react to movement extremely quickly. A newly created biologically inspired compound eye is helping scientists understand how insects use their compound eyes to sense an object and its trajectory with such speed. The compound eye could also be used with a camera to create 3D location systems for robots, self-driving cars and unmanned aerial vehicles.
In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, researchers from Tianjin University in China report their new bio-inspired compound eye, which not only looks like that of an insect but also works like its natural counterpart. Compound eyes consist of hundreds to thousands of repeating units known as ommatidia that each act as a separate visual receptor.
“Imitating the vision system of insects has led us to believe that they might detect the trajectory of an object based on the light intensity coming from that object rather than using precise images like human vision,” said Le Song, a member of the research team. “This motion-detection method requires less information, allowing the insect to quickly react to a threat.”
Imitating an insect eye
The researchers used a method known as single point diamond turning to create 169 microlenses on the surface of the compound eye. Each microlens had a radius of about 1 mm, creating a component measuring about 20 mm that could detect objects from a 90-degree field of view. The fields of view of adjacent microlenses overlapped in the same way that ommatidia do for most insects.
One of the challenges in making an artificial compound eye is that image detectors are flat while the surface of the compound eye is curved. Placing a light guide between the curved lens and an image detector allowed the researchers to overcome this challenge while also enabling the component to receive light from different angles uniformly.
“This uniform light receiving ability of our bio-inspired compound eye is more similar to biological compound eyes and better imitates the biological mechanism than previous attempts at replicating a compound eye,” explained Song.
To use the artificial compound eye for measuring 3D trajectory, the researchers added grids to each eyelet that help pinpoint location. They then placed LED light sources at known distances and directions from the compound eye and used an algorithm to calculate the 3D location of the LEDs based on the location and intensity of the light.
The researchers found that the compound eye system was able to rapidly provide the 3D location of an object. However, the location accuracy was reduced when the light sources were farther away, which could explain why most insects are nearsighted.
Image Credit: Le Song, Tianjin University
Thanks to Heinz V. Hoenen. Follow him on twitter: @HeinzVHoenen
News This Week
Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a new face mask that they believe could stop viral particles as effectively as N95 masks. Unlike N95 masks, the new masks were designed [...]
Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of [...]
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have developed a safer and more efficient way to deliver a promising new method for treating cancer and liver disorders and for vaccination -- including a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna [...]
Despite its advantages over other vaccine technologies for Covid-19, adenovirus vector vaccines are likely to be tripped up by pre-existing antibodies to the vectors used and the need for a second injection to boost [...]
When the first coronavirus cases in Chicago appeared in January, they bore the same genetic signatures as a germ that emerged in China weeks before. But as Egon Ozer, an infectious-disease specialist at the Northwestern University [...]
Park Systems presents “NanoScientific Symposium on Nano Applications for a Changing World” sponsored by Physics World and Nanotechnology World Association. Park Systems launched this online event for researchers and scientists in nanoscience and nanotechnology [...]
Notwithstanding the wishful thinking of certain irresponsible and incompetent public figures, the only options to control and deal with the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are fast, cheap, reliable, [...]
From the Annals of Neurology: In less than 6 months, the severe acute respiratory syndrome‐coronavirus type 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) has spread worldwide infecting nearly 6 million people and killing over 350,000. Initially thought to be restricted [...]
A cheap steroid has become the first life-saving treatment in the Covid-19 pandemic, described by scientists as a major breakthrough and raising hopes for the survival of thousands of the most seriously ill. Dexamethasone [...]
Clinical researchers are this week set to begin human trials of a new coronavirus vaccine developed by researchers at Imperial College London. The study will be the first time the vaccine has been trialled in humans [...]
A form of the novel coronavirus which has become the dominant type in much of the world may have done so thanks to a mutation that allows it to better latch onto human hosts’ [...]
A widely available and inexpensive drug that is used to ease the symptoms of indigestion may prove a worthy contender for treating COVID-19 infection in those whose disease doesn’t require admission to hospital, suggest [...]
One of the most common COVID-19 tests involves a long swab pressed deep into the nasal cavities – and while the test can be administered quickly, it has been described as unpleasant and uncomfortable. [...]
Nature wades through the literature on the new coronavirus — and summarizes key papers as they appear: 1 June — Positive coronavirus test is no guarantee of infectiousness People with COVID-19 are unlikely to [...]
In April, blood clots emerged as one of the many mysterious symptoms attributed to Covid-19, a disease that had initially been thought to largely affect the lungs in the form of pneumonia. Quickly after came [...]
Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) developed an experimental diagnostic test for COVID-19 that can visually detect the presence of the virus in 10 minutes. It uses a simple assay [...]