Georgia State researchers design artificial vision device for microrobots

Camera Lens

Fin is a former junior editor at TechForge.

Researchers at Georgia State University (GSU) have designed an ‘electric eye’ – an artificial vision device – for micro-sized robots.

Through using synthetic methods, the device mimics the biochemical processes that allow for vision in the natural world.

It improves on previous research in terms of colour recognition, a particularly challenging area due to the difficulty of downscaling colour sensing devices. Conventional colour sensors typically consume a large amount of physical space and offer less accurate colour detection.

This was achieved through a unique vertical stacking architecture that offers a novel approach to how the device is designed. Its van der Waals semi-conductor powers the sensors with precise colour recognition capabilities whilst simplifying the lens system for downscaling.

“The new functionality achieved in our image sensor architecture all depends on the rapid progress of van der Waals semiconductors during recent years,” said one of the researchers.

“Compared with conventional semiconductors, such as silicon, we can precisely control the van der Waals material band structure, thickness, and other critical parameters to sense the red, green, and blue colours.”

ACS Nano, a scientific journal on nanotechnology, published the research. The article itself focused on illustrating the fundamental principles and feasibility behind artificial vision in the new micro-sized image sensor.

Sidong Lei, assistant professor of Physics at GSU and the research lead, said: “More than 80% of information is captured by vision in research, industry, medication, and our daily life. The ultimate purpose of our research is to develop a micro-scale camera for microrobots that can enter narrow spaces that are intangible by current means, and open up new horizons in medical diagnosis, environmental study, manufacturing, archaeology, and more.”

The technology is currently patent pending with Georgia State’s Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation.

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