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Butterfly-Inspired Surgery Camera

April 10, 2018

A camera based on the complex eye of the morpho butterfly could improve cancer surgeries.

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Missael Garcia and Viktor Gruev with their morpho butterfly-inspired srugery camera. (Liz Ahlberg/University of illinois)

Missael Garcia and Viktor Gruev with their morpho butterfly-inspired surgery camera. (Liz Ahlberg/University of illinois)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A butterfly-inspired camera. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Morpho butterflies sport stunning, iridescent blue wings, which catch the eye of other morphos even at great distances. Now, scientists have designed a camera inspired by the insect’s sensitive visual system to help surgeons identify cancerous tissue. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineer Viktor Gruev says the butterfly’s eyes are made up of nanostructures that detect both color and near-infrared light.

VICTOR GRUEV (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagn):

And they use these nanostructures to see more colors than we can.

HIRSHON:

Gruev says the camera’s sensors mimic these structures. His team reports in the journal Optica that compared with state-of-the art imaging technology, the camera makes it much easier to see cancerous tissues that have been stained with fluorescent dyes. This allows surgeons to remove all of the cancer before it can spread. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Graduate student Missael Garcia led the research.

Story by Susanne Bard

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