Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering
Liquid Lenses May Lead To Smarter Cameras
New miniature image-capturing technology powered by water, sound, and surface tension could lead to smarter and lighter cameras in everything from cell phones and automobiles to autonomous robots and miniature spy planes.
Rensselaer researchers 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.
“The lens is easy to manipulate, with very little energy, and it’s almost always in focusno matter how close or far away it is from an object,” says project leader Amir Hirsa, professor and associate department head for graduate studies in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering. “There is no need for high voltages or other exotic activation mechanisms, which means this new lens may be used and integrated into any number of different applications and devices.”