Animal Eyes Provide High-Tech Optical Inspiration

Brian Handwerk in National Geographic News:

051205_animal_eyesLee and Berkeley colleague Robert Szema wrote on the state of animal-eye optics research in a recent issue of the journal Science.

In his lab, Lee is refining three-dimensional polymer structures that can mimic the components of an eye, from lenses to light receptors. He believes soft, flexible polymers may be the key to replicating natural sight systems that outperform their mechanized competition.

“Many, many biologists have studied animals’ eyes,” Lee said. “Some of those studies are decades old. But they didn’t have the tools to make the artificial structures that are now possible.

“[Now is] really a good time to figure out how to make complex three-dimensional structures, like compound eyes.”

More here.