4-D imaging with liquid crystal microlenses

4D imaging with liquid crystal microlenses
A concentric array of liquid crystal microlenses provides 4D information about objects. Scale bar, 20 μm. Credit: Adapted from ACS Nano 2019, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b07104

Most images captured by a camera lens are flat and two dimensional. Increasingly, 3-D imaging technologies are providing the crucial context of depth for scientific and medical applications. 4-D imaging, which adds information on light polarization, could open up even more possibilities, but usually the equipment is bulky, expensive and complicated. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Nano have developed self-assembling liquid crystal microlenses that can reveal 4-D information in one snapshot.

Polarized light contains waves that undulate in a single plane, whereas unpolarized light, such as that from the sun, contains waves that move in every direction. Light can become polarized by reflecting off objects, and detecting this type of light could reveal hidden information. For example, can reflect polarized light differently than healthy tissues. Wei Hu, Yan-Qing Lu and colleagues wanted to develop a portable, inexpensive and easy-to-use microlens to simultaneously acquire 3-D space and polarization information, thereby producing 4-D images.

To make their microlenses, the researchers used liquid crystals, materials found in most electronic displays. With a self-assembly process, they patterned arrays of liquid crystal microlenses into concentric circles. The researchers used a polarized optical microscope to image objects, such as a cross or the letter "E," under different directions of linearly polarized light. Microlenses in the array imaged the object differently, depending on their distance from the object (depth) and the direction of polarized light, producing 4-D information. Although the resolution needs to be improved, the technique could someday be used in applications such as , communications, displays, information encryption and , the researchers say.

4-D imaging with liquid crystal microlenses
Credit: ACS

Explore further

Portable polarization-sensitive camera could be used in machine vision, autonomous vehicles, security and more

More information: Ling-Ling Ma et al. Self-Assembled Asymmetric Microlenses for Four-Dimensional Visual Imaging, ACS Nano (2019). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b07104
Journal information: ACS Nano

Citation: 4-D imaging with liquid crystal microlenses (2019, November 20) retrieved 19 October 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2019-11-d-imaging-liquid-crystal-microlenses.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
95 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments