Scientists at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have announced the development of an ultra-thin camera that uses insect-eye structures for high-resolution imaging. The camera features a unique visual structure that simulates the eyes of insects, with a thinner lens profile and a wider viewing angle than any commercial camera. The researchers believe these features will allow the camera to be used in areas where a variety of small cameras are needed, such as mobile, surveillance, medical equipment and reconnaissance equipment.
To solve the problem of thick lenses, the team created a lens that mimics the Xenos Pecky insect structure and uses it in conjunction with image sensors to develop an ultra-thin camera. In insects, pigment cells block the light between the lenses and form images in each lens. The lens structure designed by the scientists prevents optical crosstalk between lenses, helping to obtain high-contrast and high-resolution images.
The researchers used a photolithography process to block the optical crosstalk between lenses, creating this blackout structure and making it very thin. In order to reduce the thickness of the lens, its direction is arranged in reverse to simulate the direction of the image sensor. When completed, the final product is 0.74 mm thick. It’s about half the thickness of a 10 won coin.
This sensor takes multiple images and combines them into a single high-resolution image. According to the researchers, the lenses are commercially viable. The final commercial options include smartphone cameras, surveillance devices and potential medical device uses. The team did not say how far they were from commercializing the lens.