The Artificial Bee Eye or the Perfect Lens

Over 8,500 hexagonal built-in miniature lenses

By on 28 Apr 2006, 14:38 GMT
A team of American bioengineers are trying to create a perfect artificial bee eye, which could revolutionize technology, as it is meant to replace the lenses used in ultra-thin cameras, omni-directional surveillance devices or high-speed motion sensors, informs BBC Online.

As a bee eye has a very complex structure, with over 8,500 hexagonal built-in lenses, each unit being orientated in a slightly different direction, the final image will look like a miniature mosaic.

The scientists from Berkley and University of California say that, by creating an artificial eye, which looks like a dome, they could also discover the way insects create their own eyes, starting with just one cell.

"Even though insects start with just a single cell, they grow and create this beautiful optical system by themselves," said Professor Luke Lee, one of the bioengineers involved in the study.

"I wanted to understand how nature can create layer upon layer of perfectly ordered structures without expensive, fabrication technology," he said.

Insect eyes are, maybe, the most complex miniature structure, as it is made of thousands of minuscule lenses, every one of them guiding the light into a channel containing light-sensitive cells, and only after this long process, the image is produced by optical nerve cells.

The project was financed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), United States military research group, as this new discovery could be used in security devices.

Photo Credits - Animal Planet

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