Abstract

A key feature of Alvarez lenses is that they may be tuned in focal length using lateral rather than axial translation, thus reducing the overall length of a focus-tunable optical system. Nevertheless the bulk of classical microsystems actuators limits further miniaturization. We present here a new, ultrathin focus-tunable Alvarez lens fabricated using molding techniques and actuated using liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) artificial muscle actuators. The large deformation generated by the LCE actuators permits the integration of the actuators in-plane with the mechanical and optical system and thus reduces the device thickness to only 1.6 mm. Movement of the Alvarez lens pair of 178 μm results in a focal length change of 3.3 mm, based on an initial focal length of 28.4 mm. This design is of considerable interest for realization of ultraflat focus-tunable and zoom systems.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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