Omni-directional Lensless Optical Sensor

Posted 7 Jul 2006 at 19:22 UTC by steve Share This

MIT has developed an unusual optical sensor that could have applications in robotics and other fields. Unlike conventional man-made and natural optical systems, it's transparent, uses no lenses, and has no optical axis to limit the direction and angle of view. Yoel Fink and other researchers created a sphere of polymeric, light-sensitive fibers; 1mm photoconductive glass optical fibers run beside a metal electrode, both sandwiched in a polymer insulator. When light strikes the optical fiber, it alters a current passing through the electrode. The light passes through the fiber, intersecting with another fiber on the other side of sphere, providing directional information about the source. A computer assimilates the data from the sensor, constructing an image of the entire volume of space around the sensor. The fibers can be arranged into other geometrical constructs such as parallel grids or even woven into clothes, possible providing a new route to vision for the blind. One of the researchers says, "just the idea of imaging with a transparent object is a true eye opener". For more information see the MIT Photonic Bandgap Fibers & Devices Group website. A letter detailing the research was published in the June issue Nature Materials. Nature doesn't provide public access to their journals yet but a cached Google copy of the letter may be available.

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