# Lens

views updated May 23 2018

# Lens

Resources

In the field of optics, a lens is a device used for focusing or defocusing a beam of light. It is usually made from shaped glass. A device that uses other types of electromagnetic radiation, other than light, are also called a lens.

A lens is commonly formed from a disk-shaped blank of transparent material, such as glass, plastic, or fused quartz; both sides are ground and polished, with at least one surface being polished with a curve. The word lens is derived from the Latin word for lentil, since the shape of a lens resembles the curved surface of a lentil bean.

Lenses (the plural of lens) are important in everyday life. Eyes have lenses that can be adjusted by the ciliary muscles surrounding the lens to provide a clear image of objects far away or up close. The ability of the lens to change its focal length diminishes with age, often requiring correction with external lenses (glasses or contact lenses). Lenses are also used in optical instruments such as cameras, telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, and lighthouse assemblies. Lenses come in many differing shapes, with each surface being flat, concave, or convex.

Focusing, or convergence, occurs because the lens refracts light, as is shown in Figure 1a: parallel rays enter the convex lens from the left and, since light travels more slowly through the lens than through air, the rays are bent toward the optical axis that runs through the center of the lens. The rays come together at a point in space that is separated from the lens by the focal length (f). Calculating f for a simple spherical lens (which has a curved surface with a spherical shape) is done using the simple formula

where n is the refractive index of the glass, and r1 and r2 are the radii of curvature of the first and second surfaces respectively. The radius value is positive if the surface is concave and negative if convex. From this formula, it is apparent that reducing the radius of curvature of one or both surfaces will shorten the focal length. Flat surfaces have an infinite radius of curvature and therefore do not contribute to focusing. Figure 1b shows the effect of concave surfaces on the focusing of light: the parallel rays entering the lens are bent away from the optical axis and are said to diverge. In this case, the lens is called a negative lens. (Note that divergence of the rays is such that they seem to emanate from a point that is one focal length behind the lens.)

Lenses are important because they can be used to form an image of an object. There are two types of images that may be formed. The first is the real image, which is formed on the side of a lens away from the object and can be projected onto viewing screen. The second is a virtual image, which is formed on the object side of the lens and cannot be projected on a screen; however, the virtual image can be viewed by looking into the lens, as with a microscope. The

size, position, magnification, and type of image formed by a positive lens depend on the position of the object relative to the focal length. When the object is located two focal lengths away from the lens, the image is real, inverted, and the same size as the object (Figure 2a). If an object is moved further away, the image becomes smaller (Figure 2b). If the object is moved closer, then the image becomes larger (Figure 2c) until the separation is one focal length. If the object is placed less than one focal distance away from the lens, then a virtual, magnified, upright image is formed (Figure 2d). Negative lenses always form a virtual image that is smaller than the object (Figure 2e). The position of the image is calculated using the simple equation

1 over o~ + 1 over i~ = 1 over f

where o is the distance between the object and the lens and I is the location of the image. A negative value of I indicated that the image is virtual.

Single lenses may cause several types of aberration, such as chromatic or spherical aberration, which tend to distort an image. For instance, chromatic aberration occurs because the refractive index depends on the wavelength, and so the lens has a different focal length for different wavelengths. Since the human eye detects light over a large range of wavelengths, chromatic aberration causes the colors of the image to separate and blur. This distortion can be corrected using a compound lens (an achromatic pair), in which the chromatic aberration of the first lens is compensated for by the second. A compound lens is usually a pair of lenses glued together in which the two inner surfaces have the same radius of curvature. Spherical aberration, a distortion caused by the spherical shape of the lens, can be reduced by using special combinations of spherical lenses or by using a lens with a different profile. For instance, a lens with a parabolic profile is used instead of a spherical lens to focus a laser beam on a very fine point.

The f-number of a lens is given by the ratio of the focal length of the lens to the aperture, the opening through which light passes. A lens with a large aperture has a small f-number and therefore lets more light through than a smaller diameter lens. Aberrations become increasingly noticeable as the f-number decreases; thus, the design of a low f-number lens system is more complex because there are more aberrations in the system that must be reduced. The introduction of computers in the 1980s to lens system design has helped produce new systems in the 2000s that perform better than systems designed using the older design techniques.

Many optical instruments require the use of several lenses, firmly held together and relative to one another;

### KEY TERMS

Aberration A distortion or defect in an image formed by a lens.

Magnification The ratio between the size of an image seen using an optical instrument and the size of the image seen with the naked eye. A magnification of 10 means that the image is ten times larger than it would have been if seen unaided.

Optical axis An imaginary line running through the center of an optical system, to which all optical elements are aligned.

Parabolic lens A lens where the curved surface, or surfaces, can be described by a parabola which is rotated in space. The parabolic lens is used to reduce spherical aberration.

Refraction The bending of light that occurs when traveling from one medium to another, such as air to glass or air to water.

Refractive index (characteristic of a medium) Degree to which a wave is refracted, or bent.

Spherical lens A lens where the curved surface is part of a spherical surface. This is the simplest type of lens to manufacture.

such assemblies are called lens systems. The simplest lens system is the telescope, which consists of two lenses, a large diameter objective that gathers as much light as possible, and a smaller eyepiece that aligns the rays of light in order to allow the eye to see the image. The magnification of the telescope is equal to the ratio of the focal lengths of these two lenses. More complex lens systems can be found in the field of photography, either as camera lenses or in enlarging machines. A camera lens is essentially a positive lens that produces a real image at the film plane; however, because of aberrations and the need for different magnifications, most camera lens systems have multiple elements. Wide-angle lenses have an angle-of-view of 90 to 140°(180° for fisheye lenses) and show considerable distortion, particularly around the edges.

Standard camera lenses have an angle-of-view of 50 to 60° and telephoto lenses have an angle-of-view of 20 to 40°. Both of these lenses show less distortion. The telephoto lens is designed to give a long effective focal length (in the range of 85 to 300 mm) without the bulk of a long focal length lens; for example, a 200-mm telephoto lens system uses several lenses to produce the 200-mm effect without being four times as long as a 50-mm system. Zoom lenses contain elements that can be moved relative to the others in order to change the focal length of the combination, and so a single lens system can take the place of many. However, since the zoom lens system is not optimized for any set focal length, the image is often not as good as that provided by a fixed focal length lens.

The term lens can also be applied to devices that control the divergence of beams other than light beams. For instance, a magnetic lens is used to focus beams of charged particles (such as electrons and protons) and can be found in particle accelerators and television tubes.

## Resources

### BOOKS

Kingslake, Rudolph. A History of the Photographic Lens. New York: Academic Press, 1989.

Menn, Naftaly. Practical Optics. Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Boston, MA: Elsevier Academic Press, 2004.

Sharma, K.K. Optics: Principles and Applications. Boston, MA: Academic Press, 2006.

Sinzinger, Stefan. Microoptics. Weinheim, UK: Wiley-VCH, 2003.

Iain A. McIntyre

# Lens

views updated May 18 2018

# Lens

In the field of optics , a lens is a device used for focusing or defocusing a beam of light . It is commonly formed from a disk-shaped blank of transparent material, such as glass , plastic, or fused quartz; both sides are ground and polished, with at least one surface being polished with a curve . The word lens is derived from the Latin word for lentil, since the shape of a lens resembles the curved surface of a lentil bean.

Lenses are important in everyday life. Eyes have lenses that can be adjusted by the ciliary muscles surrounding the lens to provide a clear image of objects far away or up close. The ability of the lens to change its focal length diminishes with age, often requiring correction with external lenses (glasses or contact lenses). Lenses are also used in optical instruments such as cameras, telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, and lighthouse assemblies. Lenses come in many differing shapes, with each surface being flat, concave, or convex.

Focusing, or convergence, occurs because the lens refracts light, as is shown in figure 1a: parallel rays enter the convex lens from the left and, since light travels more slowly through the lens than through air, the rays are bent toward the optical axis that runs through the center of the lens. The rays come together at a point in space that is separated from the lens by the focal length (f). Calculating f for a simple spherical lens (which has a curved surface with a spherical shape) is done using the simple formula

where n is the refractive index of the glass, and r1 and r2 are the radii of curvature of the first and second surfaces respectively. The radius value is positive if the surface is concave and negative if convex. From this formula, it is apparent that reducing the radius of curvature of one or both surfaces will shorten the focal length. Flat surfaces have an infinite radius of curvature and therefore do not contribute to focusing. Figure 1b shows the effect of concave surfaces on the focusing of light: the parallel rays entering the lens are bent away from the optical axis and are said to diverge. In this case the lens is called a negative lens. (Note that divergence of the rays is such that they seem to emanate from a point that is one focal length behind the lens.)

Lenses are important because they can be used to form an image of an object. There are two types of images that may be formed. The first is the real image, which is formed on the side of a lens away from the object and can be projected onto viewing screen. The second is a virtual image, which is formed on the object side of the lens and cannot be projected on a screen; however, the virtual image can be viewed by looking into the lens, as with a microscope . The size, position, magnification, and type of image formed by a positive lens depend on the position of the object relative to the focal length. When the object is located two focal lengths away from the lens, the image is real, inverted, and the same size as the object (figure 2a). If an object is moved further away, the image becomes smaller (figure 2b). If the object is moved closer, then the image becomes larger (figure 2c) until the separation is one focal length. If the object is placed less than one focal distance away from the lens, then a virtual, magnified, upright image is formed (figure 2d). Negative lenses always form a virtual image which is smaller than the object (figure 2e). The position of the image is calculated using the simple equation

where o is the distance between the object and the lens and I is the location of the image. A negative value of I indicated that the image is virtual.

Single lenses may cause several types of aberration, such as chromatic or spherical aberration, which tend to distort an image. For instance, chromatic aberration occurs because the refractive index depends on the wavelength, and so the lens has a different focal length for different wavelengths. Since the human eye detects light over a large range of wavelengths, chromatic aberration causes the colors of the image to separate and blur. This distortion can be corrected using a compound lens (an achromatic pair), in which the chromatic aberration of the first lens is compensated for by the second. A compound lens is usually a pair of lenses glued together in which the two inner surfaces have the same radius of curvature. Spherical aberration, a distortion caused by the spherical shape of the lens, can be reduced by using special combinations of spherical lenses or by using a lens with a different profile. For instance, a lens with a parabolic profile is used instead of a spherical lens to focus a laser beam on a very fine point.

The f-number of a lens is given by the ratio of the focal length of the lens to the aperture, the opening through which light passes. A lens with a large aperture has a small f-number and therefore lets more light through than a smaller diameter lens. Aberrations become increasingly noticeable as the f-number decreases; thus the design of a low f-number lens system is more complex because there are more aberrations in the system that must be reduced. The recent introduction of computers to lens system design has helped produce new systems that perform better than systems designed using the older design techniques.

Many optical instruments require the use of several lenses, firmly held together and relative to one another; such assemblies are called lens systems. The simplest lens system is the telescope , which consists of two lenses, a large diameter objective that gathers as much light as possible, and a smaller eyepiece that aligns the rays of light in order to allow the eye to see the image. The magnification of the telescope is equal to the ratio of the focal lengths of these two lenses. More complex lens systems can be found in the field of photography , either as camera lenses or in enlarging machines. A camera lens is essentially a positive lens that produces a real image at the film plane ; however, because of aberrations and the need for different magnifications, most camera lens systems have multiple elements. Wide-angle lenses have an angle-of-view of 90° to 140° (180° for fisheye lenses) and show considerable distortion, particularly around the edges. Standard camera lenses have an angle-of-view of 50° to 60° and telephoto lenses have an angle-of-view of 20° to 40°. Both of these lenses show less distortion. The tele-photo lens is designed to give a long effective focal length (in the range of 85mm-300mm) without the bulk of a long focal length lens; for example, a 200mm tele-photo lens system uses several lenses to produce the 200 mm effect without being four times as long as a 50mm system. Zoom lenses contain elements that can be moved relative to the others in order to change the focal length of the combination, and so a single lens system can take the place of many. However, since the zoom lens system is not optimized for any set focal length, the image is often not as good as that provided by a fixed focal length lens.

The term lens can also be applied to devices that control the divergence of beams other than light beams. For instance, a magnetic lens is used to focus beams of charged particles (such as electrons and protons) and can be found in particle accelerators and television tubes.

## Resources

### books

Hecht, Jeff. Optics: Light for a New Age. New York: Scribner, 1987.

Kingslake, Rudolph. A History of the Photographic Lens. New York: Academic Press, 1989.

Smithson, Greg. Light and You. Chicago: Physics Press, 1991.

Sobel, Michael. Light. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Iain A. McIntyre

## KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Aberration

—A distortion or defect in an image formed by a lens.

Magnification

—The ratio between the size of an image seen using an optical instrument and the size of the image seen with the naked eye. A magnification of 10 means that the image is 10 times larger than it would have been if seen unaided.

Optical axis

—An imaginary line running through the center of an optical system, to which all optical elements are aligned.

Parabolic lens

—A lens where the curved surface, or surfaces, can be described by a parabola which is rotated in space. The parabolic lens is used to reduce spherical aberration.

Refraction

—The bending of light that occurs when traveling from one medium to another, such as air to glass or air to water.

Refractive index

—(characteristic of a medium) Degree to which a wave is refracted, or bent.

Spherical lens

—A lens where the curved surface is part of a spherical surface. This is the simplest type of lens to manufacture.

# Lens

views updated May 21 2018

# Lens

Lenses are carefully shaped pieces of glass, plastic, or other transparent material. They are designed to manipulate light rays to create particular kinds of images. For example, the lenses in a telescope are designed to produce an enlarged view of a faraway object. Other common form of lenses are those found in eyeglasses, cameras, and microscopes.

## Pioneers in lens development

Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (15641642) and Dutch scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (16321723) were among the first to use lenses extensively in scientific research. Other scientistsFrench mathematician René Descartes (pronounced ren-AY day-KART; 15961650) and English scientist Isaac Newton (16421727), among othersdedicated most of their lives to improving lens designs. Despite the amount of time it has been in existence, the lens remains one of the simplest and most useful optical tools available.

## How lenses work

Lenses work on two principles: that light always travels in straight lines, and that it travels more slowly through glass or plastic than it does through air.

Light bends when it exits one substance (the air) and enters another (a lens). It bends again as it leaves the lens. The amount of bending depends greatly upon how much the lens is curved. All lenses have at least one curved surface, and most have two. There are two kinds of lenses, classified by how they are curved. Convex lenses (also called converging or positive) are thick in the middle and thin along the edges. Concave lenses (also called diverging or negative) are thin in

the middle and thick along the edges. Each design bends and affects light differently.

## Convex lenses

A convex lens bends light toward a central point (see Figure 1a). The farther from the center of the lens a beam of light strikes, the more the resulting light (f ) is bent. Assuming an object is more than one focal length (a specific distance determined by the construction of the lens) away from the lens, the image viewed through a convex lens is always upside down. This is called a real image, and it can be projected upon a screen. The real image can be smaller or larger than the original object, also depending upon its distance from the lens.

Convex lenses magnify or enlarge objects. This type of lens is used in microscopes, telescopes, and binoculars.

## Concave lenses

Concave lenses bend light away from a central axis (see Figure 1b). Similar to a convex lens, the light that strikes near the edge of the concave lens is bent more sharply away from the central axis (f ). The image seen through a concave lens is called a virtual image. It is always right side up and cannot be projected. The virtual image is always smaller than the original, no matter what its distance from the lens.

Individual lenses cannot form sharp, flawless images over a wide field, and the images are always accompanied by distortion and color aberrations. Thus, most optical devices use systems of lenses that often assemble convex and concave lenses in precise combinations to minimize distortion or produce various effects.

Certain lenses, called plano-concave and plano-convex, are curved on only one side. Optical correction lenses, such as those used in eyeglasses, are ground with one side concave and one convex. Convexo-concave lenses aid patients who are nearsighted, while farsighted patients require concavo-convex lenses.

# lens

views updated May 11 2018

lens / lenz/ • n. a piece of glass or other transparent substance with curved sides for concentrating or dispersing light rays, used singly (as in a magnifying glass) or with other lenses (as in a telescope). ∎  the light-gathering device of a camera, typically containing a group of compound lenses. ∎  Physics an object or device that focuses or otherwise modifies the direction of movement of light, sound, electrons, etc. ∎  Anat. short for crystalline lens. ∎ short for contact lens.DERIVATIVES: lensed adj. lens·less adj.ORIGIN: late 17th cent.: from Latin, ‘lentil’ (because of the similarity in shape).

# lens

views updated May 23 2018

lens (lenz) n.
1. (in anatomy) the transparent crystalline structure situated behind the pupil of the eye. It helps to refract incoming light and focus it onto the retina. See also accommodation.

2. (in optics) a piece of glass or other material shaped to refract rays of light in a particular direction. Lenses are worn to correct faulty eyesight. l. implant a plastic lens to replace a natural lens that has been removed because of cataract. See also bifocal lens, contact lenses, multifocal lens.

# lens

views updated May 18 2018

lens A transparent biconvex structure in the eyes or analogous organs of many animals, responsible for directing light onto light-sensitive cells. In vertebrates it is a flexible structure centred behind the iris and attached by suspensory ligaments to the ciliary body. In terrestrial species its main function is to focus images onto the retina. To focus on near objects, the circular muscles in the ciliary body contract and the lens becomes more convex; contraction of the radial muscles in the ciliary body flattens the lens for focusing on distant objects (see also accommodation).

# lens

views updated Jun 11 2018

lens Piece of transparent glass, plastic, quartz, or organic matter, bounded by two surfaces (usually both spherical) that changes the direction of a light beam by refraction (bending the wave). A convex lens bends light rays towards the lens axis. A concave lens bends rays away from the axis. The optical image may be right side-up or inverted, real or virtual, and magnified or reduced in size.

# lens

views updated May 23 2018

lens XVII. — L. lens LENTIL; so called on account of its shape.