Million-Eyed Camera

Doggie Insta time! Hey! Stay put you two!!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Cameras nowadays can do amazing things. But trying to focus on two subjects at different distances… is still pretty fuzzy. How can we take a prettier picture?

Enter Qingbin Fan and colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. For help, they looked to ANCIENT ARTHROPODS.

An extinct water bug called the Trilobite had unique eyes. It could focus near and far simultaneously thanks to thousands of mini-eyes in each eye. To mimic this, researchers made a lens consisting of millions of tiny pillars. 

These micro additions make a big difference! Arranged like a cityscape, they bend light in different directions. This lens can focus on multiple points over a half mile apart!

The answer to photography’s biggest problem existed four hundred million years ago!? This lens could help self-driving cars track distances more accurately.

Now my focus is unlimited! Make note: get more Insta-dogs!

Reference: Fan, Q., Xu, W., Hu, X., Zhu, W., Yue, T., Zhang, C., … & Xu, T. (2022). Trilobite-inspired neural nanophotonic light-field camera with extreme depth-of-field. Nature communications, 13(1), 1-10.