Liquid lenses are used to create infinitely variable lenses with the help of one or more fluids. An infinitely variable lens is created without the movement of any parts by controlling the surface of the fluid. Liquid lens can be categorized into two types such as reflective and transmissive. Such types of liquid lenses are very different from liquid formed lenses, which are created by placing an epoxy or a drop of plastic on a surface and then left to harden into the shape of a lens.
Reflective liquid lenses are variable mirrors, which are used in reflector telescopes instead of traditional glass mirrors. When a fluid container is rotated, the centripetal force creates a reflective concavity, which is highly suitable for telescopic applications. Transmissive liquid lenses uses two unmixable fluids, each having different refractive index. The different refractive index allows the creation of variable focus lenses with high optical quality of 10 microns. Among the two fluids, one is an electrically conductive aqueous solution and the other is a non-conducting oil. The two fluids are stored in a small tube with lucid end caps. One of the caps and the tube’s interior are coated with hydrophobic material, which allows the aqueous solution to form a shape of hemispherical lens on the opposite side of the tube. In order to control the shape of the lens and decrease water repellency, dc voltage is applied across its coating and this process is known as electrowetting.
The module of a liquid lens is an electronically controllable variable focus system. Liquid lenses makes the use of two iso-density liquids, water as a conductor and oil as an insulator. The change in the voltage leads to the variation in the curvature of two liquids, which changes the focal length of the installed optical lens. The major advantages and characteristics of liquid lenses are its ruggedness, better optical quality, lesser power consumption, small in size and swift response times. In addition, liquid lens ensures the smooth installation, maintenance and setup by eliminating the requirement of opening the reader and touching the lens. It has immense application for reading distances, which changes part to part and has extraordinary swift response times compared to other auto focus equipment.
Liquid lens technology is highly preferred over conventional lens technology. Liquid lens does not have any movable parts and has an optimal power consumption level. Unlike the liquid lens, conventional lens technology requires mechanical adjustments in order to focus or enlarge the images, being captured. In addition, liquid lens is 85% smaller in size compared to typical camera lenses and therefore it finds immense application in mobile and optical devices, where weight and size savings are extremely vital.
Increasing application of liquid lenses in cameras, telescopes, mobile and optical devices is the major factor driving the growth of liquid lens market, globally. In addition, rising demand for high performance and energy-efficient lens is a crucial driver for the liquid lens market. Moreover, the rising popularity of photography and demand for pro-HD cameras, which are required for extreme sports are also a vital driving factor influencing the growth of liquid lens market. However, high cost associated with the manufacturing of liquid lens is set to inhibit the growth of this market.
North America is considered to be the largest liquid lens market, globally, followed by Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. Increasing application of liquid lens in photography, videography, scientific, medical, mobile and optical instruments are the major factors driving the growth of liquid lens market in North America. Some of the key players in the liquid lens market includes Cognex Corporation (U.S.), Invenios (U.S.), Varioptic (France), Optilux (U.S.) and Imagine Optics, Inc. (U.S.) among others.