Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new type of fiber that is capable of producing images without the need for a lens. Multimaterial fibers are flexible and translucent, consist of metal electrodes connected to a semiconductor, and are covered by an insulating polymer sheath. Light is detected by the semiconductor layer in the fiber, which also relays signals via the electrodes to a microprocessor. The signals from the fibers are combined by the microprocessor to determine the light's intensity, direction, and color.
The researchers used visualization software to process the data, recreate the source image, and then display it on a monitor screen. The approach could be used for stealth wallpaper or to enable a soldier's uniform to provide a full view of the battlefield. It also solves the problem of having a damaged lens.
The development "should inspire others to find ways to integrate nanoscale components," says materials scientist Rod Ruoff of the University of Texas at Austin. "I found myself wondering, for example, whether such components might conceivably be embedded in glass fibers, as well as in polymer fibers."
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