11 October 2012 Liquid crystal lens focusing in monocentric multiscale imagers
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In multiscale imagers a single objective lens is shared by multiple secondary optical systems, so that a high-resolution wide-angle image is acquired in overlapping fields sensed by multiple conventional focal planes. In the “AWARE2” 2 Gigapixel imager, F/2.4 optics cover a 120 degree field of view using a monocentric glass primary lens shared by 221 molded plastic subimagers, each with a 14 Megapixel focal plane. Such imagers can independently focus parts of the image field, allowing wide-angle imaging over relatively close and deep image fields. However, providing hundreds of independent mechanical focus adjustments has a significant system impact in terms of complexity, bulk, and cost. In this paper we explore the use of an electronically controlled liquid crystal lens for focus of multiscale imagers in general, and demonstrate use with the AWARE2 imager optics. The Lens Vector Auto Focus (LVAF) liquid crystal lens provides up to 5 diopters of optical power over a 2.2mm aperture diameter, the maximum currently available aperture. However, a custom lens using the same materials and basic structure can provide the 5 diopters power and 6.4 mm aperture required to obtain full resolution overlapping image fields in the AWARE2 imager. We characterize the LVAF lens and the optical performance of the LVAF lens in the current AWARE2 prototype, comparing the measured and optically modeled resolution, and demonstrating software control of focus from infinity to an 2m object distance.
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Igor Stamenov, Igor Stamenov, Eric Tremblay, Eric Tremblay, Katherine A. Baker, Katherine A. Baker, Paul McLaughlin, Paul McLaughlin, Joseph E. Ford, Joseph E. Ford, } "Liquid crystal lens focusing in monocentric multiscale imagers", Proc. SPIE 8486, Current Developments in Lens Design and Optical Engineering XIII, 84860V (11 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.930249; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.930249

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