New Polymer Lens Uses "GRIN" Technology to Mimic Human Eye
November 15, 2012 7:10 AM
The team's polymer lenses with GRIN technology
(Source: Michael Ponting)
The team said the new lens could be used to replace damaged or diseased lenses in human eyes, or be applied to aerial surveillance technology
A team of researchers has
created a lens
that closely mimics that of the human eye, opening up potential opportunities for lifelike human lenses and other technology.
The team, made up of scientists from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, PolymerPlus and Case Western Reserve University, said that the new lens could be used to replace those that are damaged or diseased in human patients.
The lens was created using GRIN technology, which stands for gradient refractive index optics. Traditional lenses use a single index of refraction or surface shape to bend light in a certain direction. But with GRIN, light is refracted by "varying degrees" as it travels through the lens.
GRIN technology was applied to the new lens built by the team. The lens consists of thousands of nanoscale polymer layers stacked on top of each other, which were created using a multilayer film coextrusion technique. This allows each layer to be shaped appropriately according to GRIN. A 4,000-layer film is coextruded and 200 layers of film are stacked for an 800,000 nanolayer sheet.
Each nanoscale polymer layer has different optical characteristics. This allows the lens to change its refractive index, which further changes the refractive characteristics in the polymer.
According to results, the lenses are 3.5 times more powerful than glass.
is a GRIN lens," said Michael Ponting, polymer scientist and president of PolymerPlus. "As light passes from the front of the human eye lens to the back, light rays are refracted by varying degrees. It's a very efficient means of controlling the pathway of light without relying on complicated optics, and one that we attempted to mimic."
The team said the new lens could be used to replace damaged or diseased lenses in human eyes, or be applied to aerial surveillance technology.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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