Non-Mechanical Auto-Focus and Optical Zoom

Technology #ua10-124

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Mohammad Reza Daj
Research Associate, Optical Sciences
Nasser Peyghambarian
Professor, Optical Sciences
James Schwiegerling
Professor, Optical Sciences
Pouria Valley
Graduate Associate, Research, Optical Sciences
Managed By
Amy Phillips
Sr. Licensing Manager (520) 621-9579


A design for a non-mechanical zoom system using variable focus elements without moving parts to create optically zoomed images has been developed. Three different magnifications have been demonstrated, and unlike digital zoom, enhanced detail is presented to the detector for improved imaging. The variable focus elements are electronically controlled using low voltages, allowing the system to be integrated readily into electronic devices.


Zoom systems are useful in imaging applications to collect extra-fine detail of scenes or objects. Many camera systems used today implement a feature called digital zoom, but digital zoom is only computer-generated and does not increase the detail of the captured image. Optical zoom, however, delivers enhanced detail to the image itself, but conventional systems require moving parts in order to incorporate this function. Zoom systems are therefore generally more complicated and expensive and are not well suited for compact imaging systems such as cameras in cell phones. Non-mechanical zoom systems have better potential for implementation in imaging systems where compactness and simplicity are crucial.


  • Low-voltage electronic interface
  • Quick switching between magnifications
  • Ruggedness due to the lack of moving parts


  • Infrared imaging
  • Binoculars
  • Any type of rugged imaging system in need of zoom capability


James T. Schwiegerling


Amy Phillips

Licensing Manager, Tech Launch Arizona

Refer to technology # UA10-124