Illinois researchers have developed a camera that mimics the eye of mantis shrimps, one of the sharpest-sighted predators in the ocean. The researchers hope bio-inspired images could potentially improve early cancer detection and provide a new understanding of underwater phenomena.
Compared with human vision, which has three different types of color receptors, the mantis shrimp has 16 different types of color receptors and six polarization channels. Their eyes not only surpass the sensitivity of our own visual systems, they also capture more visual information, using less power and space, than today’s most sophisticated, state-of-the-art cameras.
The mantis shrimp eye is constructed in such a way that photosensitive elements are vertically stacked on top of each other, allowing for absorption of shorter wavelengths, such as blue light, in the shallow photoreceptors and red light in the deeper receptors. The photoreceptors are organized at the nanoscale that allows them to also ‘see’ the polarized properties of light.
The applications for such cameras are wide-ranging — from early cancer detection by detecting the disordered nature of cancerous cells in the body to monitoring changes in the environment that might be invisible to the human eye.
To get more information, check out he study as published in Optica.