The ALL project is centred on bringing ground breaking adaptive liquid crystal lenses recently developed by the UPM to a state of maturity by which the technology can be transferred from the academic to an industrial environment for further development.
The technology developed by the UPM, patent pending, is based on generating high performing lenses, with unprecedented tuning range and quality, with only a very limited number of control pixels (a few dozens, compared e.g. to the millions on a mobile phone). The lens consists of two cascaded transparent units, which add up to a reconfigurable Fresnel lens. In each of the units the active material is a liquid crystal, less than 10 microns thick, addressed by a uniquely defined pixel pattern.
The potential of these lenses, is immense in almost any sensing or imaging application, ranging from cameras, spectacles and contact lenses to space-craft pointing and sensing telescopes and microscopy.
The current design and simulation, based on available driver and manufacturing technology will generate programmable lenses with optical powers of 1/4, 2/4, 3/4…10/4 dioptres.
The project will result in the first integration of the lens with a purpose-built electronics driver and software, which will be presented by the consortium to potential manufacturing partners, such as market leading European lens manufactures such as Zeiss, Leica, Schott or Rodenstock or even to financial investors with intention of and experience in industrial product development, launch and production in order to create a joint venture, or spin off company.
The project falls logically into two sections which reflects the strengths of the partners in the consortium: a first section describing the lens manufacturing and characterisation section and a second section describing the electronics and software, including the user interface.
The UPM will be in charge of the lens development and will provide ADT with the hardware specifications needed for the system. ADT will develop a modular electronics driver which will make it possible to control various devices in parallel, or devices with a higher number of electrodes.
The lens manufacturing will include the manufacturing of lenses up to 25mm diameter with optical power up to 10 dioptres (positive or negative), in steps of 1/3, 2/3…30/3, which will require in the order of 60 electrodes in each of the two devices.
The lens characterisation will include the description of the lens in terms of spherical, aspherical and chromatic aberrations.
ADT will develop a compact plug and play driver which will run on a PC with purpose-built software. The driver will be able to run up to 5 separate devices, to control both simple single lens implementations as well as compound structures such as telescopes and microscopes.