Created wrought wide-angle lens with a mini-depth perception




prototype polymer lens

The man largely imitates nature . The experimental lenses, developed at the University of Ohio, are proof of that. Optic has a wide viewing angle, like an insect, and the ability to perceive depth, which is typical of the man.

The development can be applied both in smartphones, competing for the quality of shooting with digital cameras, as well as in medical devices for high precision surgical procedures. Full description of the lenses is given in the Technical Digest of the International Conference on micro-electromechanical systems (International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, IEEE).

Our eyes are able to change the focal length. Insect eyes formed by a plurality of tiny optical elements that can not adjust the focus, but can provide a wide viewing angle. Possible to combine these two characteristics. We did that and got a wide-angle lens with depth perception – says Yi Zhao, associate professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at Ohio State University.


Prototype chzhaoskih lenses made of flexible transparent resin and coated with a small amount of pockets filled with a gel-like solution fluid inside the human eye. A lens shape, and therefore the direction and the focal length can be changed by adjusting the volume of fluid in these pockets. All this is reminiscent of the work of the eye muscles that turn the eyeball lead the eye in the desired direction.

The system is fundamentally different from the way the focus of traditional digital cameras and microscopes, where the focus is set to the movement of the lens at a certain distance. In fact, the deformable lenses have a focal potential of moving lenses, enclosed in one fixed lens miniature size.
Zhao mostly interested in the use of the new lens confocal laser scanning microscopy for three-dimensional image of tiny objects.

We believe that this will make a confocal microscope with no moving parts – says the researcher.


Tests have shown that the lenses can switch attention between microscopic objects located at different distances from the eye.

Despite the full functionality of the prototype, the design needs some work. Now the volume of fluid in the lens is adjusted manually by an external pump. For use in electronics lens more suitable embodiment of the active polymer capable of changing their properties under the action of electric discharge. First tests have shown that it is promising.

The scientists also plan to reduce the size of the lens. Now the lens has a diameter of 5 millimeters – a lot by today’s standards.

Today, during the diagnostic examination of the abdominal cavity, physicians have to be introduced into the patient’s body miniature wide-angle camera. This allows you to get a more complete picture of the inside. However, these cameras do not provide the depth effect. Since it is difficult to estimate the distance between the visible objects can be accidentally injure healthy tissue.

Using our lens, surgeons can get a wide viewing angle, which allows to estimate the distance between the optical device and tissue. This adds confidence in the actions and facilitates the operation – said Zhao.

In the end, the new lens can be useful in smartphones. Due to the lack of moving parts of the camera phones use a fixed focus without the depth of the scene. The increase is due to the removal of the cut areas of the image that will certainly affect the quality of the image. Deformable lenses solve this problem and raise the camera phones to new levels.

In the future, contact lens displays might replace Google Glass.
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Tags: vision , Optics , Physics .

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