Planar Optics Are Tunable In Wavefront Output With Speeds In Milliseconds

Building an adjustable zoom lens in a millimeters-thick cell phone, in a miniaturized microscope, or at the distal end of a medical endoscope requires complex lenses that can handle the full optical spectrum and be reshaped electrically within milliseconds.

Pascal Berto of the Institut de la Vision (Paris, France) and his colleagues from the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (Barcelona, Spain) and Université Paris Descartes have demonstrated an adjustable technique to manipulate light without any mechanical movement, resulting in devices that the researchers call “smartlenses.”

When a current is passed through a well-optimized micrometer-scale resistor, the heating locally changes the optical properties of a transparent polymer plate holding the resistor, changing the plate’s refractive index.

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