Liquid lenses quickly adjust focus to accommodate objects located at various working distances. Liquid
lenses are small, mechanically or electrically controlled cells containing optical-grade liquid. When a
current or voltage is applied to a liquid lens cell, the shape of the cell changes. This change occurs within
milliseconds and causes the optical power, and therefore focal length and working distance, to shift. Many
manufacturers have designed liquid lenses that operate via slightly diff erent processes: electrowetting,
current-driven polymer, or sound piezoelectric. Liquid lenses are an ideal solution for imaging applications
requiring rapid focusing, high throughput, and depth of fi eld and working distance accommodation.
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Liquid Lenses in Imaging
Applications of Liquid Lenses
Liquid Lenses Products
Water Oil Optical Axis
Actuator with Voice Coil
How Does a Liquid Lens Work?
Corning® Varioptic® Variable Focus Liquid Lenses focus using a process called electrowetting,
which is the application of electric fi elds to manipulate the wetting properties, and therefore shape and
curvature, of a liquid. The liquid lens cell contains two immiscible liquids: a non-conductive oil and a
water solution separated by an interface. Applying a voltage at the interface between the two liquids
changes the curvature, and therefore focal length, of the lens within tens of milliseconds. Applying
more voltage increases the overall curvature and optical power of the liquid lens. The Variable Focus
liquid lenses’ capacitive characteristics allows for stable operation in high-temperature environments
once a thermal equilibrium is achieved. In addition, the two liquids within the lens have the same density,
making the system insensitive to vibration and shock.
Optotune Focus-Tunable Lenses consist of an optical fl uid-fi lled container sealed with a polymer
membrane. A current-driven actuator exerts pressure on the membrane, causing the curvature of the
lens (and therefore the optical power) to change. Due to their current dependency, electrically-focused
tunable lenses function with low operating voltages and focus within milliseconds. These lenses do not
alter polarization, have high laser damage threshold, and introduce minimal aberrations.
The adaptability, speed, and versatility of liquid lenses make them ideal for a variety of machine vision,
life science, and measuring and inspection applications. Due to their traditional mechanical layout,
standard machine vision lenses struggle to capture sharp and accurate images in high-speed or precise
applications that require quick refocusing.
Life Sciences: Liquid lenses improve and simplify the process of focus stacking (“z-stacking”) in microscopy
imaging applications. Focus stacking is often required when imaging with high magnifi cation
objectives due to their limited depths of fi eld. A liquid lens can quickly and precisely focus to various
object planes, therefore expediting the process of focus stacking. Liquid lenses can be easily integrated
into tube lenses or in infi nity space within a microscope.
Machine Vision: High-volume assembly lines require fast, accurate, and precise throughput. Integrating
a liquid lens into an inspection system is an optimal, compact, and economical solution when
focusing at multiple distances is required. Liquid lenses are an ideal solution for barcode inspection,
package sorting, quality control, and rapid automation.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: By adding a liquid lens to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imaging
system, image sharpness is quickly maintained across various heights. Liquid lenses are especially
advantageous in agricultural inspection and monitoring, geographic information systems, and in surveillance
Measurement and Dimensional Rendering: When paired with a distance sensor and camera, a
liquid lens can quickly image diff erent planes of a 3D object. The images are then stitched together in
software to create an accurate three-dimensional rendering.
As shown in the example of a typical inspection system, objects of
different heights are imaged as they pass by on a fast-moving conveyor
belt. A standard imaging lens requires mechanical refocusing
per every object, causing a delay that can limit high-throughput. A
liquid lens, free of mechanical translation, overcomes these speed
and depth of fi eld limitations by refocusing to different heights in
the matter of milliseconds.
Corning® Varioptic® Variable
Focus Liquid Lenses
TECHSPEC® Liquid Lens
Liquid Lens Cx Lenses
PixeLINK® USB 3.0 Autofocus
Liquid Lens Cameras
Pixelink® USB 3.0 Autofocus
Liquid Lens Board
Liquid Lens Telecentrics
IDS uEye LE USB 3.1 AF
Autofocus Liquid Lens Board