Fabricating low cost and high performance elastomer lenses using hanging droplets

W. M. Lee, A. Upadhya, P. J. Reece, Tri Giang Phan

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    78 Citations (Scopus)


    Existing methods for low cost lenses using parallel mold stamping and high temperature reflow requires complex engineering controls to produce high quality lenses. These manufacturing techniques rely on expensive equipment. In this paper, we propose a low cost (< $ 0.01 per pc) flexible moldless lens fabrication method based on curing a hanging transparent polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer droplet on a curved substrate. Additional deposition of hanging droplets in the same manner led to a substantial increase in the lens curvature and concomitant decrease in the focal length of the PDMS lenses down to ~2 mm. The shortest focal length lenses were shown to collimate light from a bare light emitting diode (LED) and image microscopic structures down to around 4 μm with 160x magnification. Our hanging droplet lens fabrication technique heralds a new paradigm in the manufacture of low cost, high performance optical lenses for the masses. Using these lenses, we were able to transform an ordinary commercial smartphone camera into a low-cost digital dermascope (60x magnification) that can readily visualize microscopic structures on skin such as sweat pores.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1626-1635
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiomedical Optics Express
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


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