Nav: Home

Researchers develop new lens manufacturing technique

May 20, 2019

PULLMAN, Wash. - Researchers from Washington State University and Ohio State University have developed a low-cost, easy way to make custom lenses that could help manufacturers avoid the expensive molds required for optical manufacturing.

Led by Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and graduate student, Mojtaba Falahati, the researchers developed a liquid mold from droplets that they can manipulate with magnets to create lenses in a variety of shapes and sizes. Their work is featured on the cover of the journal, Applied Physics Letters.

High-quality lenses are increasingly used in everything from cameras, to self-driving cars, and virtually all robotics, but the traditional molding and casting processes used in their manufacturing require sophisticated and expensive metal molds. So, manufacturers are mostly limited to mass producing one kind of lens.

"The molds are precisely finished and are difficult to make," said Li. "It isn't worthwhile to make a mold for low-volume production."

The researchers ran into the problem firsthand as they searched for lenses for their work to develop a portable laboratory reader on a phone.

They first tried to make their own lenses using 3D printing but found it difficult to control the lens shape. They then came up with the idea of using magnets and the surface tension of liquids to literally create free-flowing molds.

They placed tiny, magnetic iron particles into liquid droplets and built a device to surround the droplets with magnets. They then poured the plastic material used in lenses over the droplet. As they applied a magnetic field, the droplet took on a conical lens shape - creating a mold for the plastic lens material. Once they cured the plastic, it hardened and had the same optical properties and imaging quality as a commercially purchased lens. The liquid droplet remains separate and can be re-used.

The magnets can be moved to change the magnetic field, the shape of the mold, and the resulting lens. The researchers also used bigger or smaller droplets to create lenses of varying sizes.

"We brought the concept of interfacial tension to the field of optics by introducing an innovative controllable liquid mold," said Li. "This novel process allowed us to regulate the shape of a magnetic drop and to create lenses without having to fabricate expensive molds."
-end-
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Washington State University

Related Magnetic Field Articles:

Understanding stars: How tornado-shaped flow in a dynamo strengthens the magnetic field
A new simulation based on the von-Kármán-Sodium (VKS) dynamo experiment takes a closer look at how the liquid vortex created by the device generates a magnetic field.
'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field
Scientists at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology report in Nature (Fen.
Brightest neutron star yet has a multipolar magnetic field
Scientists have identified a neutron star that is consuming material so fast it emits more x-rays than any other.
Confirmation of Wendelstein 7-X magnetic field
Physicist Sam Lazerson of the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has teamed with German scientists to confirm that the Wendelstein 7-X fusion energy device called a stellarator in Greifswald, Germany, produces high-quality magnetic fields that are consistent with their complex design.
High-precision magnetic field sensing
Scientists have developed a highly sensitive sensor to detect tiny changes in strong magnetic fields.
Brilliant burst in space reveals universe's magnetic field
Scientists have detected the brightest fast burst of radio waves in space to date -- locating the source of the event with more precision than previous efforts.
Optical magnetic field sensor can detect signals from the nervous system
The human body is controlled by electrical impulses in the brain, the heart and nervous system.
What did Earth's ancient magnetic field look like?
New work from Carnegie's Peter Driscoll suggests Earth's ancient magnetic field was significantly different than the present day field, originating from several poles rather than the familiar two.
Just what sustains Earth's magnetic field anyway?
Earth's magnetic field shields us from deadly cosmic radiation, and without it, life as we know it could not exist here.
Ironing out the mystery of Earth's magnetic field
The Earth's magnetic field has been existing for at least 3.4 billion years thanks to the low heat conduction capability of iron in the planet's core.

Related Magnetic Field Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...