Micro-Actuated Optics for Wide Field-of-View (FOV) Imaging with Random-Access Optical Zoom Capability
Agency / Branch:
DOD / DARPA
Presently, scanning and zooming of imaging optics is achieved with bulky mechanical gimbals or using multiple focal plane arrays and associated optics to cover the wide field of view. These approaches are not only expensive in terms of power, size and weight, but also costly. Alternatively, the use of liquid crystal (LC) lenses, LC spatial light modulators and LC scanners in zooming and scanning systems have been extensively researched but LC's suffer from drawbacks in terms of speed, aberrations and transmission. These limitations in zoom technology have been largely overcome with the development of Adaptive Polymer Lenses (APLs) by Holochip Corporation. Holochip Corporation, in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, has previously demonstrated compact adaptive optical zoom and aberration correction, using liquid crystal (LC) spatial light modulators (SLMs), LC lenses, and deformable mirrors. We have realized the benefit of eliminating the mechanical motion of static lenses and mirrors, demonstrating a significant reduction in the power and footprint of the system, and an increase in the speed of scanning/zooming. Further improvements will produce a high-speed, random-access, wide field-of-view, low-power zooming and scanning technology.
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