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Bug-Eyed Bio-Poets

Luke Lee, professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley, has successfully created a synthetic bug-eye. Along with a research team he calls the Bio-Poets, Lee has fashioned microscopic versions of insect’s compound eyes in the laboratory. These devices, made of complex plastic materials, can “see” in all directions simultaneously, making their scope of usage range from medicine, to 3-D cameras, to even espionage.

The Bio-Poets hope their single fly-eye is only the beginning of many new bioengineering creations. The team plans to create microscopic syringes for medical use that mimic mosquitoes and other insects that can stab and suck up blood or inject poisons, and they even hope to create bioengineered retinas so the blind can see.

So far, the compound eyes made by the Bio-Poets can detect light signals coming from virtually all directions. According the Lee, this is better than the best fish-eye lenses of today’s cameras. The eyes can also swiftly detect moving lights as they pass from one lens to another across the smallest distances — an extremely useful ability, he suggested, for covert surveillance devices.

You can read more about Professor Lee and his Bio-Poets in the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/04/28/BAGLVIH3KP1.DTL

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