Developing 3D photodetectors for biomedical imaging

Innovation spins spider web architecture into 3D imaging technology.


Using some architectural features from spider webs, scientists from Purdue University have developed 3D photodetectors for biomedical imaging. The photodetector can seamlessly interface with any 3D curvilinear surface.

Chi Hwan Lee, a Purdue assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, said, “we demonstrated a hemispherical, or dome-shaped, photodetector array that can detect both direction and intensity of incident light at the same time, like the vision system of arthropods such as insects and crustaceans.”

Spider webs typically provide excellent mechanical adaptability and damage-tolerance against various mechanical loads, such as storms. Scientists used the structural architecture of a spider web that exhibits a repeating pattern.

Lee said, “This provides unique capabilities to distribute externally induced stress throughout the threads according to the effective ratio of spiral and radial dimensions and provides greater extensibility to dissipate force under stretching better. It also could tolerate minor cuts of the threads while maintaining overall strength and function of the entire web architecture.”

Muhammad Ashraful Alam, the Jai N. Gupta Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said, “The resulting 3D optoelectronic architectures are particularly attractive for photodetection systems that require a large field of view and wide-angle antireflection, which will be useful for many biomedical and military imaging purposes.”

“The work establishes a platform technology that can integrate a fractal web design with system-level hemispherical electronics and sensors, thereby offering several excellent mechanical adaptability and damage-tolerance against various mechanical loads.”

Lee said, “The assembly technique presented in this work enables deploying 2D deformable electronics in 3D architectures, which may foreshadow new opportunities better to advance the field of 3D electronic and optoelectronic devices.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Eun Kwang Lee et al. Fractal Web Design of a Hemispherical Photodetector Array with Organic‐Dye‐Sensitized Graphene Hybrid Composites. DOI: 10.1002/adma.202004456


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