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Gallery: Scientists develop eye-shaped camera

Researchers have developed a camera that's about the same size and shape of a human eye, and see it developing into sharper pictures and even a bionic eye.
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Researchers at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have developed a camera with a layout similar in size and shape of the human eye. The eye camera is based on "single-crystalline silicon detectors and electronics, configured in a stretchable, interconnected mesh," according to the University of Illinois.

The curved technology will put an entire image in focus in contrast to today's cameras which take images that are sharper in the center than near the edges, according to researchers. Plus, the technology could be a big step toward the development of a bionic eye similar to the one worn by the "Terminator."

Credit: Beckman Institute, University of Illinois
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Here's an actual image obtained with the new 256-pixel electronic eye camera. The top shows the image taken by the camera and the bottom image shows it flattened out.

Credit: Beckman Institute, University of Illinois

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The National Science Foundation, one of the sponsors of the research describes this image: "Captured during the electronic eye fabrication process, shows a silicon focal plane array (dark brown) and electronics on a hemispherical transfer element (translucent)."

Credit: Beckman Institute, University of Illinois

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This mesh-like material is made up of tiny squares that hold the photodetectors and electronic components. This allows the structure to curve like the eye.

Beckman Institute, University of Illinois

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“Conformally wrapping surfaces with stretchable sheets of optoelectronics provides a practical route for integrating well-developed planar device technologies onto complex curvilinear objects,” said John Rogers, the Flory-Founder Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Illinois. Rogers worked on the project with Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Beckman Institute, University of Illinois

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Silicon photodetector pixels and electronics are interconnected by arc-shaped ribbons. The scale represents 10 micrometers.

Credit: Northwestern University and University of Illinois

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This diagram shows the process for using compressed silicon focal plane arrays to fabricate electronic eye cameras.

Credit: John Rogers

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The eye camera with a simple, single component imaging lens.

Credit: John Rogers

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One of the developers, John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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The other leader of the project is Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University.

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The team from the University of Illinois is led by John Rogers (rear left) and includes Joe Geddes, Mark Stoykovich, Heung Cho Ko and Viktor Malyarchuk, all postdoctoral researchers.

Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

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