Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Spherical imaging sensor for 4-π detection awareness

Technology #6455

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Stephen R. Forrest
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-8202
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Typical cameras have limited field-of-view (FOV) in front of their planar sensor, which restricts their optical usefulness in a world increasing reliant on vision systems. Recent developments in non-planar imaging sensors, such as the hemispheric focal plan array (HFPA), can extend FOV up to 140 degrees by 140 degrees without additional bulky optics; however, the manufacturing process is complex and the FOV is still limited to the forward direction. A new fabrication method now seeks to overcome these limitations, delivering spherical imaging sensors with 4-π detection.

Advanced transfer manufacturing enables various non-planar sensor shapes

The new process combines epitaxial lift off (ELO) with Van der Waals bonding to transfer wafer-etched photo devices to a flexible substrate without bulky and degradable adhesives, simplifying the fabrication process while improving device longevity. Further, designed structures using principles from mathematical origami allows the flexible devices to adapt to arbitrary 3D shapes with minimal stretching; this also enhances device life by reducing internal stresses that can cause premature failure. This allows the device to be adapted to a fully spherical substrate, something currently unobtainable from stretching rectangular image sensor grids.


  • Full spherical imaging
  • Arbitrary 3D image sensors


  • Simpler, lower cost manufacturing
  • Improved device robustness
  • Greatly improved field-of-view
  • Versatility to adapt to required sensor shape