Ultra-thin, focus-tunable and high-speed microlenses for miniaturised optical systems

An ANU researcher has developed an atomically-thin, solid-state electrically tunable focal length microlens system will offer fast, high-resolution 3D image capture capabilities in miniaturised optical systems and devices.

Background

Microlenses and microlens arrays are becoming increasingly integral to our daily lives, across a variety of sectors, e.g. consumer electronics, industrial automation, robotics, healthcare, etc. Fixed focal length microlens systems are predominantly used within devices of these applications, as the mechanical components, apertures, etc. cannot be condensed enough to fit within really-compact devices. Current tunable-focus mucrolens systems either use mechanical movements to tune focal lengths, resulting in a slow response rate and picture capturing speed, or use liquid crystals for lens fabrication, which results in a bulky product that is difficult to integrate into miniaturised devices.

Technology

A researcher from the ANU Research School of Engineering has developed a miniature, focus-tunable, high-speed microlens system suitable for integration into very-compact optical devices.

Advantages:

  • Ultra-thin: Can be made on a nano- or micrometre scale
  • Fast: Ultra-fast response rate and picture capturing speed
  • Flexible: Bending radius of < 0.1mm, desirable for incorporation into wearable devices, LEDs and other flexible micro-optic components
  • Light: Lightweight and thus suitable for integrations into aerospace and micro-air vehicles
  • Large bandwidth: Works at broad wavelengths, thus much smaller energy loss
  • Solid-state: More robust, can more readily withstand fluctuations in temperature, pressure and motion

Opportunity

ANU is seeking engagement with prospective industry partners and/or licensees to work collaboratively with us on the development and system integration of this technology for both single and multiple lens applications.