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Fish Night Vision

March 18, 2016

A light-concentrating night vision technology inspired by an aquarium fish.



Inspiration from low-light fish. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The elephantnose fish lives in dark, muddy waters, has tiny eyes, and was thought to be blind. But while it can’t see in daylight, several years ago, scientists discovered that it could see in the dark, thanks to microscopic, cup-shaped reflectors that concentrate light onto its retina. Now, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical engineer Hongrui Jianga and his colleagues describe an artificial eye inspired by the fish that collects and guides light using microscopic parabolic reflectors.

HONGRUI JIANGA (University of Wisconsin-Madison):

We have shown that we can improve the sensitivity of any imager, basically, by a factor of four or five, and ultimately we want to do it at least one magnitude or higher.


The artificial eyes could be used to improve low-light cameras, night vision goggles and medical endoscopes. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.