University of Cambridge materials scientist Chris Forman shows us the eyes of a beetle and a fruit fly in a way you've never seen them before. That's not just because they're electrograph images, which reveal the eyes in amazing detail. Forman also offers a quick introduction to biomimesis, or using biology to shape technological designs. Find out where bug eyes will show up in tomorrow's gadgets.
Forman elaborates on what we're seeing in this video:
Nature has found remarkable ways of using small amounts of energy to combine common elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen into fascinating and complex assemblies like these insects shown here. If we could do the same in our manufacturing processes then perhaps we could recycle our products more easily and we wouldn't use as much energy processing large lumps of aluminium, concrete and plastic. My research into biomaterials tries to learn from nature how to combine the same basic materials into a wide range of structures that perhaps, one day, may be used in all kinds of products from food to factories!
You can learn more about what Forman and his colleagues are doing via the University of Cambridge School of Engineering.
The size of these images is measured in μm, or microns, which are one thousandth of a millimeter. In the beetle eye each individual lens is 12μm (the thickness of cling film), and the entire eye is about 750μm across (about the thickness of 5 sheets of paper). The entire image is about 240μm across (roughly the size of a really thick bit of human hair). On the fruit fly eye, each lens is about 10μm, and the entire eye is about 200-300μm. The total distance across the image is about 115μm.
You can see more of Forman's images via Flickr.
This is the first in a series of videos called Under the Microscope, which io9 is posting in partnership with scientists at University of Cambridge. Under the Microscope is a collection of videos that capture glimpses of the natural and artificial world in stunning close-up. They will be released every Monday and Thursday for the next couple of months, and you can see the whole series here.
Thanks to Dr Bill O'Neill and Dr Paul Barker. Music by Joe Snape.