Understanding Liquid Lens and how does it work

IMX291, AR1335, AR0521 ,IMX415, IMX377, AR0821, AR0823, AR0233, AR0234, OV5640, OV13850, IMX327, IMX462., IMX662, AR0522, Sony, Onsemi, Omnivision, Cypress, GMSL, FPD Link III, IMX490, USB3.0 camera, USB2.0 Camera, MIPI Camera, Embedded Camera, Auto-Focus, PDAF, M12 Lens, ToF, Stereo Vision, mmWave, HDR, WDR, Dynamic Range, AEC-Q100, ASIL, Varioptics, Edmund Optics

Normally, it’s preferable to keep liquids and lenses distinct, but liquid lenses may be the way of the future for photography.

Today’s standard camera phone lens has a fixed focal length. Increasing adaptability requires either more lenses or a larger camera with movable optical components.

In this article, we examine everything about the new lens technology, including its actual makeup, working principles, and decision considerations.

What is a Liquid Lens Camera?

Liquid lenses are a novel technology that is quickly gaining traction in the industrial sector. Imaging systems can overcome the depth of field restrictions due to this technology since they enable the focus to be electronically altered without necessitating any mechanical movement. For applications where the working distance and product height change, this can be a wonderful solution. In different situations, they provide significant benefits over ordinary lenses. In fact, their adaptability and flexibility have been the primary drivers of their widespread acceptance.

Due to the poor imaging capability of a single optical lens, the majority of imaging lenses are multi-element assemblies. A multi-element system that incorporates a liquid lens and an imaging lens, however, benefits from the flexibility and speed of the liquid lens. Incorporating liquid lenses are the best option for applications that necessitate focus at various distances since they can focus both closely and to optical infinity in milliseconds. Wherein the objects being inspected are of varying sizes or are located at varying distances from the lens, for example, in barcode reading, package sorting, security, and quick automation.

Working of Liquid Lens Camera

Liquid Lenses perform in a really inventive way. Although it might appear like magic, a liquid lens can alter its shape quickly and in a completely scientific way. The molecules in a drop of liquid will remain together and shape a droplet if it is positioned on a hydrophobic surface (anything that repels liquids), as a result of the surface’s hydrophobic property. The procedure is continuous, reversible, and rapid for both tiny and big focus steps.

IMX291, AR1335, AR0521 ,IMX415, IMX377, AR0821, AR0823, AR0233, AR0234, OV5640, OV13850, IMX327, IMX462., IMX662, AR0522, Sony, Onsemi, Omnivision, Cypress, GMSL, FPD Link III, IMX490, USB3.0 camera, USB2.0 Camera, MIPI Camera, Embedded Camera, Auto-Focus, PDAF, M12 Lens, ToF, Stereo Vision, mmWave, HDR, WDR, Dynamic Range, AEC-Q100, ASIL, Varioptics, Edmund Optics
Diagram illustrating the working principle of the Corning® Varioptic® Liquid Lens.

Liquid lenses achieve greater autofocus capabilities through the electrowetting technique. The electrowetting procedure quickly and precisely molds the drop into a beneficial lens. This technique allows the use of various focal lengths out of a single lens.

The amount of attraction between the liquid and the conductive substance increases with the strength of the applied electric field. As it works harder to penetrate the barrier and reach the conductive layer, the water will spread out more. The liquid may be made to take on a variety of shapes by modifying the amount of energy applied. The diverse shapes that liquid assumes when used as a lens have different focal lengths, which can significantly modify the image that the sensor captures.

Advantages of Liquid Lens Technology

Many manufacturers have created liquid lenses that work in a variety of ways, including electrowetting, current-driven polymer, and sound piezoelectric. Liquid lenses are an excellent choice for imaging applications that require quick focusing, high throughput, depth of field, and working distance support. Because of its adaptability, liquid lens technology has surged in popularity in the industrial sector. Liquid lenses are well-suited for a wide range of applications and can even outperform many mechanical solutions in terms of image quality.

Imaging System

A single image system may carry out the tasks of several different image systems when using liquid lenses. It is possible to encode different object distances into the imaging system without pausing operation to change the depth of focus or set up several image systems.

Time to Respond

Liquid lenses have extremely quick reaction times, may be electrically adjustable by voltage or current, and respond in milliseconds. Fixed Focal Length and Zoom lenses frequently rely on mechanical or manual focus changes, which might slow down the imaging system.


Liquid lenses can be used in a variety of ways across an imaging system, including embedded inside or threaded to the front or back of an imaging lens.

Size mechanics are abolished in liquid lenses, allowing for their compact form. Furthermore, the functioning of liquid lenses is equivalent to that of several discrete lenses inside an assembly. The total size and weight of the entire lens are decreased by eliminating those lenses and replacing them with a tiny liquid cell.

Sensor Protection

The tiny aperture sizes of liquid lenses – the biggest is around 16mm in diameter – limit their use. Because of the narrow apertures, liquid lenses can only be used with sensors up to roughly 1/1.8″ if retrofitted onto the front of an existing machine vision lens. Liquid lenses incorporated in systems have little effect on sensor coverage.


It’s vital to remember that liquid lenses significantly increase focus speed as well. The focusing process is sped up by removing the moving parts and mechanical adjustments inherent in fixed focal length and zoom lenses. In contrast to mechanical camera systems, it can determine the depth of field and determine how far or close the object is in real time.

Integration Difficulty

Liquid lenses might be tough to incorporate depending on the available equipment and the application. Liquid lenses can be used in combination with other lenses.

Temperature Range

A liquid lens is preferable in many embedded visions use cases because they call for a wide temperature range, especially when cameras must work in industrial settings.

What distinguishes liquid lenses from traditional lenses?

The glass lenses used in traditional cameras have a set radius of curvature. In contrast, liquid lenses are tiny cells that hold an optical-grade liquid made of a water and oil mixture that really can modify its shape to produce lenses with varying curvatures and focal lengths. This represents the primary distinction between liquid lenses and traditional lenses (optical lenses).

In comparison to traditional lenses, liquid lenses focus on subjects and determine the depth of field significantly more quickly. Liquid lenses can lock the focus well even while the subject is moving, whereas traditional lenses find it challenging to do so.

It’s worth noting that liquid lens technology has no moving mechanical parts. As a result, they are extremely resistant to stress and vibration. It also allows for a stable optical axis in any direction, making liquid lenses a more durable solution than mechanical lenses.

Final Words

Future imaging technologies will use liquid lenses. The need for advancements in the technology used to create cameras has led to smaller and more capable cameras as cameras have become a regular part of our lives. However, mechanical components are only made so small, and conventional lens technology requires too many moving parts to accomplish different focus lengths from a single lens.

The primary benefits of liquid lenses are their ability to incorporate into applications for embedded vision because of their small size. If you need any assistance regarding the liquid lens to implement in your project, we (Vadzo) can assist you. Vadzo offers autofocusing using a liquid lens that maintains a reaction time, focusing speed, and more unique camera solutions. Moreover, we provide a wide range of services, including scanners, CCTV, CCD/CMOS, medical imaging, surveillance systems, machine vision, and night vision systems. Moreover, we provide ISP optimization for many different sensors, Processor cores, and use cases.

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