Zoom systems with tunable lenses and linear lens movements

Background: Classical zoom lenses are based on movements of sub-modules along the optical axis. Generally, a constant image plane position requires at least one nonlinear sub-module movement. This nonlinearity poses a challenge for the mechanical implementation. Tuneable lenses can change their focal length without moving along the optical axis. This offers the possibility of small system lengths. Since the focal range of tuneable lenses with significant aperture diameters is still limited, the use of tuneable optics in zoom lenses is usually restricted to miniaturized applications. Methods: To solve the challenge of the nonlinear movement in classical zoom lenses and the limitations of tuneable lenses for macroscopic applications we propose a combination of both concepts. The resulting ‘Hybrid Zoom Lens’ involves linear movements of sub modules as well as changing the focal length of a tuneable lens. The movements of the sub-modules and the focal length tuning of the lens are already determined by the collinear layout of the zoom lens. Therefore, we focus on collinear considerations and develop a method that allows a targeted choice of specific collinear layouts for our ‘Hybrid zoom lenses’. Results: Based on examples and an experimental setup we demonstrate the feasibility of our approach. We apply the proposed method to examples of classical zoom lenses and zoom lenses based exclusively on tuneable lenses. Thereby we are able to show possible advantages of our ‘Hybrid zoom lenses’ over these widespread system types. Conclusions: We demonstrate important collinear considerations for the integration of tuneable lenses into a zoom lens. We show that the combination of classical zoom lens concepts with tuneable lenses offers the possibility to reach smaller system lengths for macroscopic zoom lenses while requiring only a small focal tuning range of the tuneable lens.


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