Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paper-Thin Compound-Eye Camera

09.07.2004


The focal length of a lens means that a camera has to have a certain thickness - or so we might think. Insect eyes show that this need not be the case: A camera chip based on the compound-eye principle can be used for person recognition and is as thin as paper.

If people were insects, books on optics would certainly look different. The camera illustrated as the technical equivalent next to a cross-section of the eye with just one lens, one iris and one retina would not be of the conventional type. A compound camera would have many hundreds of individual eyes. Each light-sensitive unit, consisting of a lens and a photocell, would capture a narrow segment of the environment. All the images together form the complete picture. An insect’s compound eye will never achieve a particularly high optical resolution, but the principle according to which it registers images does possess some advantages, and if these were incorporated in a camera it would be very flat and could cover a wide field of view.

It was precisely these advantages which inspired research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF to develop their ultra-flat camera system. “Our latest prototypes are thinner than 0.4 millimeters,” emphasizes Andreas Bräuer, who is in charge of the Microoptics unit in Jena. “You can gain a real sense of how thin that is by picking up three sheets of carbon paper between your fingers.” Cameras incorporating conventional “human-eye” optics - such as those used in mobile phones - are at best no thinner than seven millimeters.



This development is targeted at all the applications where the advantages of the stick-on sensors really come to the fore. They are already being produced on wafers like microchips, which is a key requirement if they are one day to be manufactured cost-effectively, on an industrial scale. The next stage of the project is to install the camera in series-production units suitable for use in industry. The most important step will be to connect the lens system with receiver arrays, for example with a CMOS chip. The optical and electronic systems will then be so flat that it will be possible to integrate them in a chipcard with a thickness of 0.8 millimeters. If the chipcard “sees” that it is being used by a stranger it could block the money transfer. Just a vision? Interesting applications are also opening up for driver assistance systems in automobiles: Instead of a gawping camera lens, a discrete gray square would blend in with the car interior. From the driver’s line of vision or eye movements, the compound-eye camera could report to the onboard computer that there is a risk of the driver nodding off. Another possibility: Depending on whether a slightly built woman or a heavy man is sitting in the car, the airbag will activate comparatively gently or strongly.

Johannes Ehrlenspiel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers
20.07.2018 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

nachricht Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>