New camera inspired by butterfly eyes improves image-guided cancer surgery

IMAGE: Researchers developed a new camera that mimics the visual system of the morpho butterfly. The butterfly’s eyes contain nanostructures that sense multispectral information, providing an ideal way to acquire both… view more 

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Credit: Alex Jerez Roman and Jose Luis Vazquez

WASHINGTON — By mimicking the intricate visual system of a butterfly, researchers have created a camera that provides surgeons with both a traditional color image as well as a near-infrared image that makes fluorescently labeled cancerous cells visible even under bright surgical lighting. The new camera is designed to help surgeons remove all the cancerous cells without damaging healthy tissue, making it less likely that the cancer will spread and reducing the need for multiple surgeries.

“Instead of putting together commercially available optics and sensors to build a camera for image-guided surgery, we looked to nature’s visual systems for inspiration,” said research team leader Viktor Gruev from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The morpho butterfly, whose eyes contain nanostructures that sense multispectral information, can acquire both near-infrared and color information simultaneously.”

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In Optica, The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research, the researchers demonstrate that their bioinspired camera can detect tumors in animals and is useful for assessing


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