Microlenses: Properties, Fabrication and Liquid Lenses

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ISBN 9781439836699
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  • Represents the first reference to discuss the progress on microlenses, specifically liquid-based microlenses
  • Emphasizes both tunable and non-tunable microlenses
  • Discusses many microfabrication techniques, including deposition, photolithography, etching, annealing, liquid-phase photopolymerization, micromolding, electroplating, laser-assisted processes, and more
  • Presents a review of the physics behind microlenses
  • Examines the challenges surrounding current microlenses
  • Includes extensive references in each chapter that reflect the state of the art in the field


Due to the development of microscale fabrication methods, microlenses are being used more and more in many unique applications, such as artificial implementations of compound eyes, optical communications, and labs-on-chips. Liquid microlenses, in particular, represent an important and growing research area yet there are no books devoted to this topic that summarize the research to date. Rectifying this deficiency, Microlenses: Properties, Fabrication and Liquid Lenses examines the recent progress in the emerging field of liquid-based microlenses.

After describing how certain problems in optics can be solved by liquid microlenses, the book introduces the physics and fabrication methods involved in microlenses. It also details the facility and equipment requirements for general fabrication methods. The authors then present examples of various microlenses with non-tunable and tunable focal lengths based on different mechanisms, including:

  • Non-tunable microlenses: Ge/SiO2 core/shell nanolenses, glass lenses made by isotropic etching, self-assembled lenses and lens arrays, lenses fabricated by direct photo-induced polymerization, lenses formed by thermally reflowing photoresist, lenses formed from inkjet printing, arrays fabricated through molding processes, and injection-molded plastic lenses
  • Electrically tuned microlenses: liquid crystal-based lenses and liquid lenses driven by electrostatic forces, dielectrophoretic forces, electrowetting, and electrochemical reactions
  • Mechanically tunable microlenses: thin-membrane lenses with varying apertures, pressures, and surface shapes; swellable hydrogel lenses; liquid–liquid interface lenses actuated by environmentally stimuli-responsive hydrogels; and oscillating lens arrays driven by sound waves
  • Horizontal microlenses: two-dimensional polymer lenses, tunable and movable liquid droplets as lenses, hydrodynamically tuned cylindrical lenses, liquid core and liquid cladding lenses, air–liquid interface lenses, and tunable liquid gradient refractive index lenses

The book concludes by summarizing the importance of microlenses, shedding light on future microlens work, and exploring related challenges, such as the packaging of systems, effects of gravity, evaporation of liquids, aberrations, and integration with other optical components.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Liquid Microlenses
History of Microlenses
Categories of Microlenses
Physics of Microlenses
Microlens Arrays
Ubiquitous Problems in Optics
Applications of Liquid Microlenses

Basic Physics of Liquid Microlenses
Optical Lenses
Surface Tension

Fabrication Methods
Introduction to Microfabrication Methods
Facilities and Equipment
Substrate Materials
Basic Fabrication Steps
Other Microfabrication Techniques
Examples of Microfabrication Processes

Solid Microlenses
Germanium and Silicon Oxide Nanolenses
Quartz Glass Microlenses Etched by Reactive Ion Etching
Self-Assembled Supermolecular Nanoscale Spherical Microlenses
Microlens Arrays Fabricated from Self-Assembled Organic Polymers
Self Assembly of Microlens Arrays Using Global Dielectrophoretic Energy Wells
Microlens Arrays Fabricated from All-Liquid Techniques
Microlenses Produced by Direct Photo-Induced Cross Linking Polymerization
Microlenses Formed by Thermally Reflowing Photoresists
Microlens Arrays Fabricated with Polymer Jet Printing Technology
Microlens Arrays Fabricated through Molding
Microlens Arrays Fabricated by Hot Intrusion

Electrically Driven Tunable Microlenses
Liquid Crystal Microlenses
Liquid Microlenses Encapsulated with Polymer Thin Film Driven by Electrostatic Forces
Tunable Focus Liquid Microlenses Using Dielectrophoretic Effect
Tunable Focus Liquid Microlenses Using Electrowetting
Electrochemically Activated Adaptive Liquid Microlenses

Mechanically Driven Tunable Microlenses
Thin Glass Membranes
Polymer Membranes
Colloidal Hydrogel Dynamically Tunable Microlenses
Liquid Microlenses Tuned by Environmental Stimuli-Responsive Hydrogels
Oscillating Microlens Arrays Driven by Sound Waves

Horizontal Microlenses Integrated in Microfluidics
Two-Dimensional (2D) Microlenses
Optofluidic Microlenses
Tunable Liquid Gradient Refractive Index Lens

Looking into the Future
Commercialization of Microlenses
Future Work


References appear at the end of each chapter.

Author Bio(s)

Hongrui Jiang and Xuefeng Zeng are with the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Editorial Reviews

"It provides an excellent overview of liquid lens materials and driving techniques, resulting in micro-optics with tunable focal lengths and the possibility of integration with microfluidic devices. … I recommend it particularly for those already involved in micro-optics who would like to expand their research into tunable optics."
—Dejan Pantelic, Optics & Photonics News, 2014