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An aquatic-vision-inspired camera based on a monocentric lens and a silicon nanorod photodiode array


Conventional wide-field-of-view cameras consist of multi-lens optics and flat image sensor arrays, which makes them bulky and heavy. As a result, they are poorly suited to advanced mobile applications such as drones and autonomous vehicles. In nature, the eyes of aquatic animals consist of a single spherical lens and a highly sensitive hemispherical retina, an approach that could be beneficial in the development of synthetic wide-field-of-view imaging systems. Here, we report an aquatic-vision-inspired camera that consists of a single monocentric lens and a hemispherical silicon nanorod photodiode array. The imaging system features a wide field of view, miniaturized design, low optical aberration, deep depth of field and simple visual accommodation. Furthermore, under vignetting, the photodiode array enables high-quality panoramic imaging due to the enhanced photodetection properties of the silicon nanorod photodiodes.

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Fig. 1: Structural and functional features of aquatic vision in nature.
Fig. 2: Monocentric lens inspired by the protruding monocentric lens of aquatic eyes.
Fig. 3: h-SiNR-PDA inspired by the retina of aquatic eyes.
Fig. 4: Imaging demonstration with the integrated camera module.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code availability

The source codes for Matlab are available from the corresponding authors upon request.


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This research was supported by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS-R006-A1). This research was also supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea (2017M3D1A1039288/2018R1A4A1025623).

Author information




Min Sung Kim, G.J.L., C.C., Min Seok Kim, K.W.C., Y.M.S. and D.-H.K. designed the experiments, analysed the data and wrote the paper. Min Sung Kim, C.C., M.L., H.C. and M.K.C. fabricated the photodiode array and performed characterization of individual devices. G.J.L., Min Seok Kim and H.M.K. performed theoretical analysis on optics. S.L. and N.L. performed theoretical analysis on mechanics. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Young Min Song or Dae-Hyeong Kim.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–6, Figs. 1–35 and Tables 1–6.

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Kim, M.S., Lee, G.J., Choi, C. et al. An aquatic-vision-inspired camera based on a monocentric lens and a silicon nanorod photodiode array. Nat Electron 3, 546–553 (2020).

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