The human eye is a perfect lens. It can easily change focus between different objects, even if the objects are at a decent distance from each other. For example, in cameras, this effect is achieved by changing multiple lenses.
Ohio University engineers have found a way to make camera lenses more versatile, similar to how the human eye works. The inventors have created a composite lens filled with water. By changing the shape of the water, the lens can change its focal length.
The construction of the new lenses is made of flexible polymer very much like the multi-part eyes of insects: one large lens consists of many small domed niches filled with liquid. All niches are interconnected by tiny channels, which allows liquid to flow from one niche to another.
Thus, by pumping liquid between niches, engineers were able to change the shape of the lens itself and its focus. This method of focusing is very similar to the work of the human eye: the eye muscles slightly squeeze or stretch it to change focus.
Moreover, in the new invention, the focal point of the image can also change its position, when in conventional lenses made of plastic or glass this is achieved only by rotating the lens itself. Another advantage of the new technology is its wide angle of view. The eyes of some insects are arranged according to a similar principle: they consist of thousands of tiny faces, each of which looks in a different direction.
According to one of the co-authors of the study, Yai Zhao, as a further development of the technology, scientists will try to make it more practical for use in electronics. As a result, the technology can significantly improve the capabilities of digital cameras, as well as make them more reliable, by eliminating some of the moving parts.