MIT Develops Photo Web Fibers

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July 13, 2006 – *Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed photo-detecting fibers, according to a MIT press release last week. Unlike lens-based optical systems, found in cameras, the light-detecting fibers can measure light direction and intensity without lenses or filters.

The sphere-shaped web of photo fibers detect light, change the electrical circuit current, and then is read by a computer that translates the information. Although a single fiber can not detect a light beam, a mesh of fibers can, stated MIT’s release. Made from a photo conductive core and metal electrodes, the fibers are insulated with a polymer.

Unlike a camera lens or a human eye, the fibers can detect light from the entire volume of space around the web sphere, measuring light from an infinite number of directions. "Until now, most every optical system was limited by optical axis or direction," said Ayman Abouraddy of MIT Research Lab of Electronics in the press release.

The fibers, each measuring only 1mm in diameter, are lightweight and may later be used for textiles, according to the release. With the research partially funded by the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, one possible application of the photo fibers is military clothing for detecting surrounding light. The fibers could also aid the visually impaired with the photo-detecting clothing. Other uses include implementing the fibers in space telescopes or computer screen activation.

"We could use light to enhance interaction with computers and even gaming systems," said the project’s head scientist MIT Professor Yoel Fink in the release.

"Just the idea of imaging with a transparent object is a true eye opener," said Fink.

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