Adaptive-Focus Lenses

Hongwen Ren, Su Xu, Yeong-Jyh Lin and Shin-Tson Wu

Researchers have recently demonstrated various approaches for constructing practical, compact adaptive-focus lenses. This article summarizes the advantages and drawbacks of each.


figureImage of a flower captured by an elastic membrane liquid lens in a non-focusing state.

Imagine a lens that could adaptively change its focus power. Eyeglasses or contact lenses could have a built-in auto focus, and every cell phone might come equipped with its own zoom lens—not to mention more powerful applications in ophthalmology and medical imaging. For these applications to become reality, however, adaptive optical systems will have to shed their bulky, heavy and costly lens systems and complicated adjustment processes.

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