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A device to eliminate optical imperfections and to improve the quality of images has been developed

A team of scientists from the Universitat Jaume I (UJI) and the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC) in Spain has created a device that measures and counteracts the imperfections of any optical system and, consequently, allows higher quality images to be obtained.

The invention will enable ophthalmologists to improve the physical examination of their patients’ ocular fundus and to diagnose pathologies affecting the retina more reliably. Furthermore, the device opens the way towards the development of intelligent glasses, capable of being automatically adapted to the user’s visual deficiencies.

The images we see are formed when light reflects on the objects surrounding us, and then penetrates our eyes and hits the retina. But during this process, light passes through different media (the atmosphere, the cornea, the crystalline lens, the vitreous and aqueous humours) that are neither ideal nor homogenous and, for this reason, imperfections appear in the final image.

A parallel situation takes place in other optical systems (telescopes, microscopes, cameras) whose images are also affected by some type of deformation or degradation. The device developed by UJI and USC allows these shortcomings (optical aberrations, in scientific jargon) to be immediately and automatically measured and corrected.

One of the advantages of the new system with regard to those already existing is that it uses commercial liquid crystal screens of the TNLCD (Twisted Nematic Liquid Crystal) kind which reduce the device manufacturing costs. Under adequate polarisation conditions, liquid crystal screens operate with light and enable the modulation of the electromagnetic field amplitude, which is associated with the light that falls on them; this is obtained when a low computer-controlled voltage is applied to each screen pixel.

Another innovating aspect presented by the device that has been developed and patented by UJI and USC is that, for the first time, it integrates the measuring and counteracting of optical aberrations in one single system element (the liquid crystal screen). In this way, the whole invention can not only determine the degree of imperfection of the image that needs to be corrected, but can also apply the necessary voltage to counteract it. And all this is done quickly and automatically.

The researchers are currently seeking a technological company capable of producing and commercialising the invention. The research has been jointly conducted by the Research Group on Optics from the Department of Physics at UJI and by the Research Group on Wave-Front Sensors and Micro-Optics from the Department of Applied Physics at USC, which are respectively directed by Professors Vicent Climent and Salvador X. Bará.

Hugo Cerdà | alfa
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