Nova's newfound interest in the fascinating sea creature, Mantis Shrimps, stems from its incredible eyes and their ability to see better than any other living creature. Much like Nova's advanced metrology devices.
The Australian people call it “Prawn Killer”, and deep-sea divers call it: “Finger Smashers” due to the speed at which they can spear, cut and shock their prey with their powerful claws.
Mantis shrimps are extraordinary sea creatures. they can throw the fastest punches in the ocean The crustacean reaching up to 40cm in size can rapidly unfold their claws at their prey, with an acceleration of 10,000g and speeds of 80km/h. These strikes are so rapid, they vaporize the water around them and create a shockwave that can stun or kill their prey, even if the initial strike missed its target. So, if you find these little creatures adorable and wish to have one as a pet, take extra caution when handling them and make sure to use a bullet-proof aquarium glass.
Yet, what’s more, remarkable about the mantis shrimp is another feature– its eyes; Mantis shrimps are thought to have the most complex eyes in nature. They have compound eyes made up of tens of thousands of ommatidia – tiny independent photoreception units – each with its own lens, cornea, photoreceptor cells and pigment cells (much like flies). Each eye is mounted on a mobile stalk and can move independently. Each eye is further divided into three regions looking at the same point in space. This gives the mantis shrimp the ability to perceive depth with just one eye.
While we humans have three types of photoreceptor in our eyes, through which we experience the rich colours of the world around us, the eyes of mantis shrimps have up to 16 types of photoreceptor cells. Twelve of these photoreceptors are used for colour analysis, for light wavelengths ranging from the deep ultraviolet to the far red (300-720nm). The other four are used to analyze polarized light. In addition to detecting linear polarized light, some mantis shrimp species have been reported to be able to detect circularly polarized light. Such ability has not identified in any other living creature.
Now you might be puzzled, asking yourself, is it Nova blog that or the National Geographic?
Why are we, at Nova, are so fascinated with this creature?
When it comes to understanding why the mantis shrimp requires such complex eyes and its uses, we are nowhere close to solving the mystery. Polarization vision can be used for mating and secret communication while avoiding predators’ attention. Their elaborate eyes may also enable them to recognize predators’ prey easily and with accurate depth perception. This is especially critical for their hunting manner, which requires accurate ranging information, with split-second response times.
Ever curious about anything that has to do with better vision and data analyses, we had to check how this relates to Nova and the semiconductor metrology industry. At Nova, we use optical metrology to measure the dimensions and materials of our semiconductor samples with exceptional precision. We always seek to extend our spectral range, use the light polarization properties, and increase the amount of information gathered. But having a lot of data doesn’t necessarily mean getting better results. Having “only” three photoreceptors and lacking many of the features that the mantis shrimp eye possesses, it is the human brain that uses heavy processing of the impulses from the eyes to create vivid, colourful, and sharp images. Such processing requires powerful brains as well as time. When attempting to recognize prey or predator and deploy its extraordinary claw punch, the mantis shrimp cannot allow itself to waste precious time.
Likewise, when attempting to provide a fast and accurate interpretation of the collected data, Nova’s tools have to provide the collected data and its analyses rapidly. Mantis shrimp utilizes its many types of photoreceptors as a neural-wired system. The visual information is preprocessed by the eyes, allowing its brain to understand its surroundings without dealing with the complex process task used by other species, which requires more time and energy. Much like this, Nova tools utilize neural networking to overcome the time-consuming process of data analysis and provide an unmatched dimensional accuracy of the nano-metric structures under inspection.
At Nova, we never get enough of learning what nature can do and how we can simulate it to provide the best metrology possible.