Today we live in a world completely dominated by vision with a strong tendency to a constant increase of visual information. However, miniaturization of elements is done by applying similar optical principles known to the designers for many decades.
Novel fabrication technologies are permanently developed and applied, but there is no consequent search for new vision principles to fully exploit the newly gained technological capabilities that allow completely new and unexpected fields of application. Main re search projects at the Fraunhofer-Institute are related to these topics.
Based on a strong experience in optics engineering and a well-established facility of optical fabrication technology from macro- to nanoscale novel optical systems are developed. Recently demonstrated bio-inspired vision systems such as planar artificial compound eyes for ultra-compact image acquisition are just a first step in this direction.
Within the proposed project, novel vision systems will be designed and manufactured applying electron-beam- and photo-lithography. The main focus of research is related to artificial receptor arrays on a curved basis. This is a highly demanding and at the same time promising topic not only for artificial compound eyes but also for the simplification of classical imaging systems.
The major difference of natural and artificial image acquisition systems at this stage is the planar arrangement of the artificial receptor arrays compared to the curved geometry of the natural ones. This is the consequence of today's limitation to planar lithographic patterning technologies.
The advantages of a curved basis compared to a planar one are obvious: There are the immanence of a large field of view, the avoiding of off-axis aberrations and declining illumination with increasing field angle. Different technologies are to be applied and evaluated such as laser-lithography on curved surfaces and polymer (flexible) artificial receptor arrays.
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