Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

DVD Technology from the Sea?

PostedNovember 8, 2009

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Randy Atkins: The stomatopod’s huge eyes have a very unique structure that’s attracted scientists’ attention for years.  It’s known that, while we see only three primary light colors, stomatopods see twelve and…

Nicholas Roberts: …they have a unique ability to tell the difference between two forms of polarized light.  There are no other animals we know actually do this.  The work that we’ve done has been to show this actual mechanism.

Randy Atkins: Nick Roberts, a biologist at Britain’s Bristol University, says better optical devices could be engineered by mimicking cells in the stomatopod’s eye.  D-V-D players, for example, rely on translating forms of polarized laser light…but can do it in only one color wavelength at a time.

Nicholas Roberts: Rather than just using one wavelength to store and read data, if you use multiple wavelengths, you can increase dramatically data capacity.
Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103-point-5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.



  • For other fascinating images of the stomatopod - or "mantis shrimp" - and its eyes, go here, here, here and here.
  • A University of Bristol story on Roberts and his work.
  • A blog on the creature's eyes.