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MM Blog: Using Fish Eyes To Improve Imaging

A look at how engineers introduce a fish-eyed lens to improve visibility, inspired by an African fish and a lobster.

While most efforts to improve imaging systems is focused on the sensor component by increasing the light sensitivity, engineers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison have looked to a different method – the lens. Biologically inspired by the two “strikingly unusual eyes” of a lobster and the African elephantnose fish, the group modeled the lenses after the retinas which were consisted of thousands of tiny crystal cups. This consisted of engineering thousands of tiny parabolic mirrors as tall as a grain of pollen, arranging the mirrors on a hemispherical dome. 

The lead engineer on the project said this “showed fourfold improvement in sensitivity,” showing the difference between a completely dark image and one that can actually be seen. According to the engineers, this new artificial eye could drastically improve search-and-rescue robot operations or surgical scope visibility. The engineers hope to refine the process to increase the lens sensitivity even further.


Do you think this new technology will be widely accepted in the manufacturing industry? What industrial applications could benefit most from this upgraded lens?

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