Abstract

The liquid-crystal-adaptive lens (LCAL) is an electro-optical device that utilizes a graded index of refraction to bring light to focus. A set of electrodes controls the index variation in a liquid-crystal thin film. One can vary the focal length of the LCAL by changing the voltages applied to the device. The discrete nature of the electrodes causes phase aberrations. We introduce a novel electrode architecture, called conductive ladder meshing (CLM), that we developed to greatly reduce the static phase aberration (caused by the electrode structure). To reduce the dynamic phase aberration (associated with inaccurate voltages), we used a simulated-annealing voltage-dithering technique. The coherent transfer function of the LCAL was derived so that the performance of the CLM LCAL could be predicted theoretically. Theoretical analysis indicates that the CLM LCAL scatters less than 30% of incident light compared with scattering of 65% in the previous version. The focal-spot performance of the spherical LCAL was measured under coherent illumination for plane-wave illumination. Because of the improved quality of the spherical LCAL, true imaging experiments are demonstrated for a single incoming polarization under white-light illumination. Images formed by the spherical LCAL are comparable with those formed by a fixed lens in terms of resolution, although the contrast is worse.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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