Droplet lenses

By harnessing the natural shape of water droplets, ANU researcher Dr Steve Lee has invented a new way to make microscope lenses capable of collimating light and magnifying up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers, yet costing very little per lens to produce.

Background

Miniature optics play an important role in portable lightweight imaging, communication and sensing technologies such as optical mice, portable devices, fibre optical communications, smartphone microscopes, laser pointers, endoscopes and miniature light emitted diodes. Existing mini-optics manufacturers use glass, polymer or gradient index materials that are subjected to high grade diamond milling, polishing, moulding or ion-injection to yield lenses of the appropriate shape and characteristics. These processes require multiple steps and expensive equipment that contribute to the overall lens cost. 

The innovation

By harnessing the natural shape of water droplets, ANU researchers have invented a new way to make microscope lenses capable of collimating light and magnifying up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers, yet costing less than a cent. The lenses are compatible with many devices including the humble smart phone. This technology taps into the current citizen science revolution, which is rapidly transforming owners of smart phones into potential scientists. The mobile phone microscopes could potentially transform the field of microscopy, revolutionizing science and medicine in developing countries where they could be used for remote medical diagnosis.

Partnering opportunity

We are interested in partnering with device manufacturers to create market pull for this technology.