Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineers Win Army Grant To Build Artificial Eye

Date:
April 24, 1998
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
The University of Michigan College of Engineering has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Army to design an artificial eye on a microchip---a first-of-its-kind optoelectronic device capable of sensing and processing light.

ANN ARBOR---The University of Michigan College of Engineering has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Army to design an artificial eye on a microchip---a first-of-its-kind optoelectronic device capable of sensing and processing light.

The grant, which starts June 1, is part of a three-year Multi-University Research Initiative awarded to U-M, with the possibility of a two-year extension.

Led by Prof. Pallab Bhattacharya, director of the Solid State Electronics Laboratory, the researchers will combine lenses, tiny lasers and tunable light detectors to build the chip, which could help the military conduct the most accurate remote visual sensing yet. The device could also have numerous civilian applications, in navigation systems for vehicles, robotics and, eventually, people with visual impairment.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to undertake this important research, through which we hope to understand a little more of how the human eye works," Bhattacharya said.

Bhattacharya's team will take two approaches to building a prototype system. Both will capture light with a variable focus lens array, and shuttle it to a computer to process the data. The difference between the two versions will be in what happens in between. To preserve the color, the lens system could be followed by a set of microprisms, which will defract the incoming light into three discrete bands---red, blue, and yellow. Those beams in turn will pass into an array of photoreceivers that generate electrical signals, which in turn generate light beams at the individual wavelengths through a so-called vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL). Or, he said, the device could skip the prism step and simply employ specially tuned photoreceivers with a VCSEL that creates the three desired colors. The designs converge again when the lasers strike the processing unit.

Bhattacharya said the artificial eye will improve on the human version in at least two key respects. Whereas nature's design converts light into electronic nerve impulses, then relays those signals to the brain, the U-M proposal relies on lasers to do the bulk of the transmitting. Because light travels far faster than this biological conduction, signals will move more quickly through the man-made device than through an optic nerve. "The scheme will also allow processing of data away from the focal plane, which has several advantages," he said, including fewer problems with overheated circuits and remote capability.

Yet another advantage of the proposed system, he said, is that whereas humans can only see light in the visible portion of the spectrum, the optoelectronic sensor will be able to convert any wavelength of light into usable information. For practical purposes, this means that the device could be used for night vision---in which infrared radiation predominates---and ultraviolet detection just as well as for full daylight viewing. "The human eye is an engineering marvel, and no one has ever been able to duplicate it," he said. "But these optoelectronic devices will eventually be able to simulate the most vital functions."

While Michigan engineers have already done much of the electronics groundwork for the project, Bhattacharya said there are still several technical problems to solve. These include making variable focal length lenses that, like the eye, can adjust to every depth of field. In addition, the device will have to have a sufficiently wide array of lenses, as well as the proper processing instructions, to achieve peripheral "vision." The detectors will also have to be able to "see" everything from deep shadows to bright sunlight, and sometimes both at once. And finally, the whole system will have to be mounted in such a way that it is not sensitive to movement, either by using minute gyroscopes or similar technology.

"The challenges are many, but I believe we will be able to overcome them and pave the way for other applications with the optoelectronic sensor," he said. In addition to Bhattacharya, the following U-M College of Engineering faculty are involved in the project: Profs. George Haddad, Clark Nguyen, and Sang Lee. The group is collaborating with Prof. Dennis Deppe and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "Engineers Win Army Grant To Build Artificial Eye." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980424033707.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (1998, April 24). Engineers Win Army Grant To Build Artificial Eye. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980424033707.htm
University Of Michigan. "Engineers Win Army Grant To Build Artificial Eye." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980424033707.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins