An artistic rendition of a smart liquid microlens where a stimuli-responsive hydrogel (dark circular ring) regulates the shape of the liquid lens (center). The liquid microlens autonomously adapts to local environmental stimuli (denoted by small spheres a
August 5, 2006 Scientists at UW-Madison have developed a “smart” miniature man-made lens that can alter its shape and focal length in much the same way as the eye of an insect. There are no mechanical or electrical components in the liquid microlenses which incorporate hydrogels that respond to physical, chemical or biological stimuli and actuate lens function akin to the way muscles control the eye. The lens is a breakthrough and could lead to low cost microsystems for many applications.