September 18, 2013
Yi Zhao, associate professor of biomedical engineering and ophthalmology at Ohio State University (OSU), and his team have created a lens that utilizes techniques from humans and insects to perceive super in-depth images.
Research for this device was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Pelotonia Postdoctoral Fellowship (PPF).
Zhao explained: “Our eye can change focus. An insect eye is made of many small optical components that can’t change focus but give a wide view. We can combine the two. What we get is a wide-angle lens with depth of field.”
This lens is made of a “transparent polymer filled with a gelatinous fluid similar to fluid inside the human eye” with “dome-shaped fluid pockets” that sit on top of a larger dome.
Fluid can be pumped into the device through the domes which can assist the lens in changing shape and focus.
Zhao’s team was able to devise a lens that could mimic the movement of muscle controls in the eye.
The ability of the lens extends to difference objects being able to be perceived even if microscopic and arranged at various distances.
Zhao said: “With our lens, doctors could get the wide-angle view they need, and still be able to judge the distance between the lens and tissue. They could place instruments with more confidence, and remove a tumor more easily, for example.”
Indeed, this lens has the ability of the human eye to view objects with a wide-range of angles just as an insect sees.
When used in smartphones, this lens would vastly improve the quality of digital pictures; as well as surgical imaging during surgery.
Zhao would like to see his lens used in confocal microscopes which is an intricate system of moving glass lenses and a laser that can scan 3 dimensional images of microscopic objects.
Zhao pointed out that “with our lens, doctors could get the wide-angle view they need, and still be able to judge the distance between the lens and tissue. They could place instruments with more confidence, and remove a tumor more easily, for example.”
OSU is anticipating licensing this technology for industry and marketing via the Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer Office (TCKTO).