Materials scientists are developing an eye-shaped camera that uses a single lens to produce a distortion-free image. Most cameras require multiple lenses but the human eye does not. Now though, John Rogers and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used flexible electronic circuits to mimic our own single-lens eyes. From Nature News:
The team's solution was to use a series of silicon photodetectors (pixels) connected by thin metal wires. This network is supported and encapsulated by a thin film of polyimide plastic, allowing the flexible scaffold to bend when compressed. This scaffold takes up the mechanical stress and protects the pixels as the array takes its hemispherical shape.
The team made a hollow dome about 2 centimetres wide from a rubber-like material called poly(dimethylsiloxane). They flattened out the stretchy dome, and attached the electronic mesh. Then, as the hollow dome snapped back into its original shape, it pulled the array with it, forming a hemisphere that could be attached to a lens; the basis of the camera
"The ability to wrap high quality silicon devices onto complex surfaces and biological tissues adds very interesting and powerful capabilities to electronic and optoelectronic device design," says Rogers. "It allows us to put electronics in places where we couldn't before."
Electronic eye (Nature News)