Liquid Lenses Could Revolutionise Digital Photography

Smartphones and digital cameras look set to benefit from a recently-discovered fluid management technique used to make liquid lenses.

Engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have employed new techniques to insert metallic nanoparticles into tiny droplets of liquid. Electromagnets can then be used to manipulate the nanoparticles of metal and thus change the shape of the liquid droplet, PC Pro explains.

Changing the shape of the droplet allows light that passes through it to be focused in a different way, much like the manner in which light is focused by a glass lens. RPI have posted a Youtube video of the technology in action here.

“As the droplets vibrate, their shape is always changing. By passing light through these droplets, the device is transformed into a miniature camera lens,” said lead engineer Amir Hirsa on the RPI website.

The discovery, says Hirsa, could lead to more efficient and lightweight lenses.

“Liquid lenses could mean lighter camera lenses that require only a fraction of the energy demanded by today's digital cameras,” Hirsa added.