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Optical Design & Engineering

New liquid camera lens developed at RPI

New miniature image-capturing technology powered by water, sound, and surface tension could lead to smarter and lighter cameras in cell phones, cars, autonomous robots, miniature spy planes, and other devices.

RPI image is a series of time-lapse photos showing lens made up of two droplets of water that vibrate at high speedResearchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have designed and tested an adaptive liquid lens that captures 250 pictures per second and requires considerably less energy to operate than competing technologies.

The lens is made up of a pair of water droplets, which vibrate back and forth upon exposure to a high-frequency sound, and in turn change the focus of the lens. By using imaging software to automatically capture in-focus frames and discard any out of focus frames, the researchers can create streaming images from lightweight, low-cost, high-fidelity miniature cameras.

Results of a study by project leader Amir H. Hirsa, professor and associate department head for graduate studies in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer, are detailed in the paper "Fast focusing using a pinned-contact oscillating liquid lens." It will be the cover story of the October issue of the journal Nature Photonics. The issue also features an interview with Hirsa.

RPI press release