Kingslake Medal awarded for 'Optical Engineering' paper on new tunable microlens

Applications in artificial muscles, scientific and industrial applications

03 July 2014

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Wei Zhang of the National University of Singapore and Hans Zappe and Andreas Seifert of the University of Freiburg have been selected as the 2013 winners of the Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize for their paper titled "Polyacrylate membranes for tunable liquid-filled microlenses." The Kingslake Medal is awarded annually to the most noteworthy original paper in Optical Engineering, published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and includes a $2,000 honorarium.

The winning paper, published in the April 2013  issue of Optical Engineering, details a new, simplified process for fabrication of tunable liquid-filled lenses using polyacrylate as a new membrane material. The new process provides a useful approach for achieving stable and predictable focal properties, researchers said. Potential applications are in artificial muscles, solid-state linear actuators for scientific or industrial applications, or other applications in which large deformations are needed.

Tomasz Tkaczyk, chair of the Kingslake Award committee, said the committee members selected the paper because it is a comprehensive study of the properties of the proposed material along with a discussion of the long-term dependencies of mechanical and chemical properties on system performance, which together create a foundation to develop a new class of tunable components. "The authors' findings can be used by other designers of active optical systems to manufacture robust and dependable active optical devices," Tkaczyk said.  

Wei Zhang studied mechanical engineering at Northwestern Polytechnical University in China, where she finished her master's degree on the design of a microscope for testing microfluidics. In 2008, she joined Dr. Zappe's group in the Micro-Optics Lab at the University of Freiburg, researching tunable microlens and imaging systems, where she completed her PhD. She recently became a postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore.

Hans Zappe is professor of micro-optics and associate dean of engineering in the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, all in electrical engineering. After pursuing research activities in electronics, integrated optics, and semiconductor lasers at IBM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, and the Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique, he joined the University of Freiburg in 2000. His current research interests focus on tunable micro-optics, optical microsystems for medical applications, and novel nano-optics.

Andreas Seifert received his PhD in physics from the University of Freiburg, and subsequently worked at Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, managing projects in EUV-lithography and being responsible for scientific optical components, such as synchrotron and space optics. Since 2007 he has been group leader in the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg. His current research topics are tunable micro-optics and micro-optical systems for biomedical applications.

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