MAY 21, 2019 8:39 AM PDT

New Lens Manufacturing Technique

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

In a publication featured on the cover of Applied Physics Letters, scientists on a collaborative study have recently developed an inexpensive, less challenging method to manufacture custom lenses which can help manufacturers avoid expensive molds needed for optical manufacturing. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Credit: Washington State University

The development is a liquid mold from droplets that can be manipulated with magnets to create a diverse set of lenses. High-quality lenses are increasingly needed for quality cameras, advancing self-driving cars, and robotics. However, traditional molding and casting processes used in the manufacturing depend on sophisticated and expensive metal molds—this limits manufacturers to produce one kind of lens.

Learn more about how lenses and cameras are made:

“The molds are precisely finished and are difficult to make,” Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “It isn’t worthwhile to make a mold for low-volume production.”

Researchers initially worked to develop their own lenses using 3D printing. The step was proven difficult because of the control needed in lens shaping. Later, they focused on the idea of using magnets and the surface tension of liquids to create free-flowing molds.

To do so, they added tiny magnetic iron particles into liquid droplets followed by a device that surrounds the droplets with magnets. Plastic used in lenses was then poured over the droplet followed by an application of a magnetic field that allowed the droplet to take the shape of a conical lens shape. The process created a mold for the plastic lens material. Once the plastic is cured, it hardens and then develops the same optical properties and imaging quality as the commercially available lens. Additionally, the liquid droplet can be used again as it remains separate.

“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.”

Source: Washington State University

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
You May Also Like
APR 01, 2021
Technology
Advancing Next-Generation Electronics
APR 01, 2021
Advancing Next-Generation Electronics
How do you envision next-gen electronics? Researchers are hoping it would be rigid-free, component-free, bendable and fl ...
APR 09, 2021
Technology
Ankle Exoskeleton Enables Faster Walking
APR 09, 2021
Ankle Exoskeleton Enables Faster Walking
As people age, their speed in walking often deteriorates which can be a frustrating experience. Engineers at Stanford Un ...
JUN 09, 2021
Technology
Computer Program Generates Effective, Clinically-valid Treatment Plans for Cancer Patients
JUN 09, 2021
Computer Program Generates Effective, Clinically-valid Treatment Plans for Cancer Patients
In a recent study published in Nature Medicine, researchers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre offer evidence for th ...
JUN 19, 2021
Technology
Patients Receiving Telehealth Therapy Show Improvement with Anxiety and Depression
JUN 19, 2021
Patients Receiving Telehealth Therapy Show Improvement with Anxiety and Depression
The pandemic forced us to rely on digital technologies for a range of activities in our daily lives, including work, sch ...
JUN 28, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Ultra-Thin Spinal Implants Could Treat Severe Pain
JUN 28, 2021
Ultra-Thin Spinal Implants Could Treat Severe Pain
Researchers from the University of Cambridge have built a minimally invasive, ultra-thin, inflatable spinal cord stimula ...
JUL 16, 2021
Neuroscience
From Thought to Text: A Neural Interface can Type the Sentences You Think
JUL 16, 2021
From Thought to Text: A Neural Interface can Type the Sentences You Think
Researchers create neural interface to decode thought into text
Loading Comments...