A German research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering, Jena, Germany, has come up with a liquid lens that has no mechanical moving parts and can switch between two levels of magnification in a flick of a switch. The most amazing part of the development is the size and weight advantage of the device. The lens works on the principle of bending of light between multiple liquid layers of varying densities. The boundaries between these liquid boundaries are manipulated by applying a small voltage across them. Light is then made to focus by making it pass through those controlled boundaries.
One big application that the researchers are betting on is in the zoom lenses. Commercial zoom lenses are heavy, large, and expensive with innumerable lenses packed together. Liquid lenses can provide a new alternative with no moving parts. The size advantage is incredible too. However, the biggest hurdle is to create a whole range of magnification rather than two specific magnifications. The researchers are working on finding the right kind of liquids that can provide the altering zooms across a wide range.
Samsung is already using liquid lenses in its cell phone cameras. Currently, these lenses are finding more use in small digital photographic devices. However, if this lens theory is physically implemented in mainstream photography, the cost benefit and commercial profitability looks very lucrative.
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