What’s the recipe for an inexpensive, high-quality lens? Just bake it!
posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:07 AM EDT
Ever looked at a droplet of water on a window, and thought "That looks a lot like a lens"? You're not alone. Researchers at Australian National University noticed the same thing, and they ran with it, creating a lens that's inexpensive, easy to make, and yet very high quality.
Of course, water's not the greatest material from which to make a lens -- at least, if you don't want it to evaporate away. Instead, their creation used heat-cured silicone. Simply put, a droplet of liquid silicone is applied to a curved substrate, then cured in an oven at around 158°F (70°C) for 15 minutes. After it's cured, further droplets are added and cured to adjust the curvature of the lens, and thus its focal length.
The result, says a white paper on the research, is a lens that costs as little as one cent, yet has comparable quality to a commercial microscope lens. Attached to a smartphone camera -- specifically, a Google Nexus 4 -- it's capable of clearly resolving fingerprint ridges and individual sweat pores.
The full text of the research paper can be found on the OpticsInfoBase website.