An ultra-thin image sensor based on the compound eyes of the insects in in development at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena.
Lead researcher Andreas Bruckner says that they are focussing on the principle of hyperacuity that allows insects to fly very precise manoeuvres, despite the resolution of the images produced by their eyes not being particularly high.
The researcher says that insects see more than the images actually captured by their compound eyes because the visual fields of adjacent facets overlap.
Bruckner has revealed that he is trying to replicate this phenomenon in a technical system.
"The aim was to develop micro-optical compound eyes which contain numerous parallel imaging channels and which are also extremely compact, thinner than 0.5 millimeters," reports Bruckner.
He began his research by analysing how images are created in artificial compound eyes.
The biggest challenge before him was to accomplish controlled overlapping in the technical system because each facet captures one image point.
Bruckner says that with a precise knowledge of the angular sensitivity, image signals of adjacent facets can then be compared with each other, making it possible to determine the position of the object viewed in a two-dimensional visual field with an accuracy which is many times higher than the image resolution.
According to him, a comparison has shown that an artificial compound eye lens can transfer information with an effective image resolution of 625 x 625 pixels, although the number of actually available image pixels is limited to 50 x 50.
Consequently, the sensor can recognize simple objects, precisely determine their position and size, and also reliably detect movements.
Bruckner will be conferred the Hugo Geiger Prize for the results of his dissertation.