Liquid Lenses in Your Smartphone?
So how do these liquid lenses work?
All lenses have a particular shape that allows them to transmit and concentrate light in the fashion the designer intends. For liquid to be shaped into a lens, it is divided into 2 layers: a refractive liquid layer and a non-refractive liquid layer. The conductive non-refractive layer is set to touch electrodes that, when powered, can draw the non-refractive layer toward the electrodes. The refractive layer (the one functioning as a lens) is subsequently drawn toward the non-refractive layer via surface tension. This attraction can be tailored to shape the refractive layer into a perfect optical lens.
Can you zoom?
Well, not yet. Liquid zoom lenses are expected to come around 2014, while non-zooming prime lenses may be available by 2013. The fluid nature of a liquid lens permits it to focus extremely precisely and also to transmit light without much reduction in intensity. Liquid lenses can “stabilize” the image by positioning their electrodes in a certain way; this will make it easier to get blur-free shots without a flash.
The real test for liquid lenses is displaying a proven benefit over traditional glass optics. The hope is that liquid lenses will be able to overcome many of the physical limitations of glass optics with lenses that are of a wider focal length, more telephoto, smaller, and able to transmit light near 100%.
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