Self-Regulating Iris Based on Light-Actuated Liquid Crystal Elastomer
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Scientific › peer-review
|Publication status||Published - 7 Jun 2017|
|Publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
The iris, found in many animal species, is a biological tissue that can change the aperture (pupil) size to regulate light transmission into the eye in response to varying illumination conditions. The self-regulation of the eye lies behind its autofocusing ability and large dynamic range, rendering it the ultimate "imaging device" and a continuous source of inspiration in science. In optical imaging devices, adjustable apertures play a vital role as they control the light exposure, the depth of field, and optical aberrations of the systems. Tunable irises demonstrated to date require external control through mechanical actuation, and are not capable of autonomous action in response to changing light intensity without control circuitry. A self-regulating artificial iris would offer new opportunities for device automation and stabilization. Here, this paper reports the first iris-like, liquid crystal elastomer device that can perform automatic shape-adjustment by reacting to the incident light power density. Similar to natural iris, the device closes under increasing light intensity, and upon reaching the minimum pupil size, reduces the light transmission by a factor of seven. The light-responsive materials design, together with photoalignment-based control over the molecular orientation, provides a new approach to automatic, self-regulating optical systems based on soft smart materials.