In our vain human struggle to kill flies, our hands and swatters often come up lacking. This is due to no fault of our own, but rather to flies’ compound eyes. Arranged in a hexagonal, convex pattern, compound eyes consist of hundreds of optical units called ommatidia, which together bestow upon flies a nearly 360-degree field of vision. With this capability in mind, a team of researchers at Pennsylvania State University is drawing on this structure to create miniature light-emitting devices and optical sensors.
“We were inspired by those eyes,” said Raúl J. Martín-Palma, an adjunct professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. “We said, ‘OK, we can make something artificial using the same replicating structure to emit light in all directions, rather than what we have now, which is just planar, light-emitting diodes.’” Martín-Palma has been involved in work with ‘bioinspiration,’ in which ideas and concepts from nature are implemented in different fields of science and engineering, for the past seven years. He and fellow researchers describe their work in the journal Applied Physics Letters, which is produced by AIP Publishing.