Adaptive elastomer-liquid lens can find a variety of optical applications due to the tunable optical powers without additional lens replacement or displacement. Most current elastomer-liquid lenses use elastomer membrane with a constant thickness. This approach, however, suffers from substantial optical aberration due to the edge clamping effect. In this study, a varied thickness elastomer membrane with customized aspherical profile is designed and developed to encapsulate a plano-convex liquid lens. Such varied thickness membrane is fabricated by double-side replica molding against a deformed elastomer-liquid lens membrane with a constant thickness. Such configuration could alleviate the edge clamping effect. Simulation and experimental results both show that the lens with a varied thickness membrane exhibits improved optical resolutions at both the center and the peripheral regions at the back focal length of 10 mm comparing to the lens with a constant thickness membrane. This study provides an effective solution to suppress the optical aberrations without sacrifice of the optical aperture.
The stereoscopic image is often captured using dual cameras arranged side-by-side and optical path switching systems such as two separate solid lenses or biprism/mirrors. The miniaturization of the overall size of current stereoscopic devices down to several millimeters is at a sacrifice of further device size shrinkage. The limited light entry worsens the final image resolution and brightness. It is known that optofluidics offer good re-configurability for imaging systems. Leveraging this technique, we report a reconfigurable optofluidic system whose optical layout can be swapped between a singlet lens with 10 mm in diameter and a pair of binocular lenses with each lens of 3 mm in diameter for switchable two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) imaging. The singlet and the binoculars share the same optical path and the same imaging sensor. The singlet acquires a 3D image with better resolution and brightness, while the binoculars capture stereoscopic image pairs for 3D vision and depth perception. The focusing power tuning capability of the singlet and the binoculars enable image acquisition at varied object planes by adjusting the hydrostatic pressure across the lens membrane. The vari-focal singlet and binoculars thus work interchangeably and complementarily. The device is thus expected to have applications in robotic vision, stereoscopy, laparoendoscopy and miniaturized zoom lens system.