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Concept: Microlens


Biological materials are often based on simple constituents and grown by the principle of self-assembly under ambient conditions. In particular, biomineralization approaches exploit efficient pathways of inorganic material synthesis. There is still a large gap between the complexity of natural systems and the practical utilization of bioinspired formation mechanisms. Here we describe a simple self-assembly route leading to a CaCO(3) microlens array, somewhat reminiscent of the brittlestars' microlenses, with uniform size and focal length, by using a minimum number of components and equipment at ambient conditions. The formation mechanism of the amorphous CaCO(3) microlens arrays was elucidated by confocal Raman spectroscopic imaging to be a two-step growth process mediated by the organic surfactant. CaCO(3) microlens arrays are easy to fabricate, biocompatible and functional in amorphous or more stable crystalline forms. This shows that advanced optical materials can be generated by a simple mineral precipitation.

Concepts: Optics, Mineral, Solid, Calcium carbonate, Metaphysics, Lens, Glass, Microlens


A straightforward technique for fabricating low-cost microlens arrays with controllable focal length is developed. By harnessing and manipulating the interfacial energy between the liquid-state acrylate resin and the solidified polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the surface of the acrylate resin in the PDMS microhole presents a spherical shape and the curvature can be flexibly controlled. With the change of the processing time for the surface modification of the PDMS microholes, the focal length of the concave microlenses varies from -296.3 μm to -67.4 μm. The numerical aperture of 0.45 is realized. The focal length and the aperture of the microlenses are also affected by the diameter of the microholes. The fabricated concave microlens array can be employed as a master to further duplicate convex microlens array. A good image quality can be achieved by using the convex microlens arrays.

Concepts: Optics, Lens, Sphere, Photography, F-number, Microlens


In this paper, we propose a dual-view-zone tabletop 3D display system based on integral imaging by using a multiplexed holographic optical element (MHOE) that has the optical properties of two sets of microlens arrays. The MHOE is recorded by a reference beam using the single-exposure method. The reference beam records the wavefronts of a microlens array from two different directions. Thus, when the display beam is projected on the MHOE, two wavefronts with the different directions will be rebuilt and the 3D virtual images can be reconstructed in two viewing zones. The MHOE has angle and wavelength selectivity. Under the conditions of the matched wavelength and the angle of the display beam, the diffraction efficiency of the MHOE is greatest. Because the unmatched light just passes through the MHOE, the MHOE has the advantage of a see-through display. The experimental results confirm the feasibility of the dual-view-zone tabletop 3D display system.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Light, Optical fiber, Volumetric display, 3D display, Microlens, 3D imaging


This work developed a method of femtosecond laser (fs-laser) parallel processing assisted by wet etching to fabricate 3D micro-optical components. A 2D fs-laser spot array with designed spatial distribution was generated by a spatial light modulator. A single-pulse exposure of the entire array was used for parallel processing. By subsequent wet etching, a close-packed hexagonal arrangement, 3D concave microlens array on a curved surface with a radius of approximately 120 μm was fabricated, each unit lens of which has designable spatial distribution. Characterization of imaging was carried out by a microscope and showed a unique imaging property in multi-planes. This method provides a parallel and efficient technique to fabricate 3D micro-optical devices for applications in optofluidics, optical communication, and integrated optics.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Optical fiber, Microscope, Lens, Book of Optics, Differential geometry, Microlens


We report on a method to fabricate a varifocal microlens array that employs a dielectric elastomer (DE) sandwiched between two electrodes as the lens material. The microlens array is patterned on the electrode plates, and when the electrodes are subjected to a controllable operating voltage, the DE material is “squeezed” by the Maxwell force to deform the lens array pattern, thus resulting in curvature deformation yielding a tunable lens profile. The tunable focal length performance ranges from 950 mm to infinity. When compared with liquid-filled lenses, solid-based varifocal lenses are more robust to thermal expansion, gravity, and vibrational motion. Our approach can be utilized in applications such as machine vision systems.

Concepts: Optics, Magnification, Lens, Focal length, Dioptre, Photographic lens, Microlens, Machine vision


We demonstrate an efficient method for fabricating high-quality cylindrical microlens arrays (CMLAs) on the surface of fused silica, fully based on spatially shaping of a femtosecond laser beam from Gaussian to Bessel distribution. As the envelope of shaped spatial intensity distribution matches the profile of cylindrical microlens perfectly, a CMLA with more than 50 uniform microlenses is fabricated by simple line scanning. The radius and height of these microlens units can be finely controlled by adjusting the power of laser pulses. Excellent optical imaging and high-speed fabrication performances are also demonstrated by our fabricated CLMA.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Optics, Light, Optical fiber, Gaussian beam, Welding, Microlens


A rapid method is developed for fabricating low-cost and high-numerical-aperture photosensitive-gel microlens arrays (MLAs) with well-controlled curvatures. An UV-curable photosensitive gel film beneath the microholes of a silicon mold can be flexibly deformed by thermally manipulating the surface tension of the photosensitive gel and the pressure difference across the air-photosensitive-gel interface. The concave interface is then solidified through UV curing, forming an MLA with a concave curvature. MLAs with a focal length ranging from 51.4 μm to 71.9 μm and a numerical aperture (NA) of 0.49 were fabricated. The photocured MLA has high mechanical and thermal strength and is suitable as a master mold for the further production of convex MLAs. The fabricated microlenses have uniform shapes and smooth surfaces. In a demonstration of imaging and focusing performance, clear and uniform images and focused light spots were observed using concave and convex MLAs.

Concepts: Optics, Magnification, Lens, Differential geometry, Photography, F-number, Depth of field, Microlens


In compression molding of polymer optical components with micro/nanoscale surface features, rapid heating of the mold surface is critical for the implementation of this technology for large-scale applications. In this Letter, a novel method of a localized rapid heating process is reported. This process is based on induction heating of a thin conductive coating deposited on a silicon mold. Since the graphene coating is very thin (∼45  nm), a high heating rate of 10∼20°C/s can be achieved by employing a 1200 W 30 kHz electrical power unit. Under this condition, the graphene-coated surface and the polymer substrate can be heated above the polymer’s glass transition temperature within 30 s and subsequently cooled down to room temperature within several tens of seconds after molding, resulting in an overall thermal cycle of about 3 min or shorter. The feasibility of this process was validated by fabrication of optical gratings, micropillar matrices, and microlens arrays on polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) substrates with very high precision. The uniformity and surface geometries of the replicated optical elements are evaluated using an optical profilometer, a diffraction test setup, and a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor built with a molded PMMA microlens array. Compared with the conventional bulk heating molding process, this novel rapid localized induction heating process could improve replication efficiency with better geometrical fidelity.

Concepts: Optics, Heat, Glass transition, Wavefront, Adaptive optics, Shack-Hartmann, Microlens, Wavefront sensor


Plenoptic cameras are used for capturing flames in studies of high-temperature phenomena. However, simulations of plenoptic camera models can be used prior to the experiment improve experimental efficiency and reduce cost. In this work, microlens arrays, which are based on the established light field camera model, are optimized into a hexagonal structure with three types of microlenses. With this improved plenoptic camera model, light field imaging of static objects and flame are simulated using the calibrated parameters of the Raytrix camera (R29). The optimized models improve the image resolution, imaging screen utilization, and shooting range of depth of field.

Concepts: Optics, Simulation, Computer graphics, Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo method, Photography, Microlens, View camera


We report on a novel speckle reduction scheme using microlens arrays as screen material for application in laser-based projection systems. The scheme is based on properly adjusting the coherence properties on the screen: when the coherence area on the microlens-array screen is smaller than the microlens footprint, there is no interference between the fields emitted by the different microlenses and as a result no speckle is formed. We measured and modelled the speckle properties of microlens arrays with regular and irregular structure and lens sizes, and also a paper screen for comparison. In the experiments, we tune the laser beam’s spatial coherence by sending it through a rotating diffuser. We show the amount of speckle reduction that can be achieved, which mechanisms influence the observed speckle contrast and we discuss the limitations due to increased non-uniformity in the projected image.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Laser, Coherence, Holography, Lens, Speckle pattern, Microlens