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Cluster Eye Camera

Cluster Eye Camera Designed like an Insect’s Eye

The downsizing of conventional single lens arrays onto the micro level quickly reaches its physical limitations. A proper miniaturization, therefore, needs new imaging methods. This project focuses on the development of a so-called cluster-eye camera, a setup inspired by the visual system of insects. In contrast to classic single-channel lenses, the ‘cluster eyes’ consist of many channels, aligned side by side, each of which consisting of several lenses and apertures.

The optical components used in this setup (mostly micro lens arrays) are manufactured with the help of lithographic and molding methods on wafer level. For the final assemblage of the system, the wavers are piled on top of each other, bonded and eventually cut apart.

During the course of the project, the research team seeks to establish two prototypes, each with a different design of the cluster-eye lens. Both systems are based on the same manufacturing process. The first device is intended to scale down the image of distant objects (flat camera), the second one to reproduce near structures on a one-to-one scale (flat microscope).

schematischer aufbau clusteraugenkamera


Design of a cluster-eye camera consisting of
three micro lens arrays and piezoelectric actuators.
When changing the threshold voltage of the piezoelectric actuators, the space between the micro lens arrays adjusts accordingly, 
which is to say that the system adapts to different object distances (autofocus).


Both setups should contain piezoelectric actuators that include suitable amplifying devices on waver level. Primary goal of this method is to obtain a high imaging quality in direct dependence on the object distance. In addition, the lens can be moved in the direction of the rays adding further features, such as autofocus, macro shots and vertical section.pzt dickschichtaktor

Such miniaturized micro-optical imaging systems can be applied in 'machine vision' and 'life sciences'.


Team Leaders


Recent Publication


Bramlage, B., Gebhardt, S., Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on New Actuators (Actuator 2010): 594-96.

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