Adaptive Optical Zoom Rifle Scope With Push-Button Magnification
Sandia National Laboratories optical engineer Brett Bagwell led the development of the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) prototype. At the push of a button, RAZAR can toggle between high and low magnifications, enabling soldiers to zoom in without having to remove their eyes from their targets or their hands from their rifles. Adaptive zoom changes the focal lengths of two or more lenses by varying the curvature of the lenses' surfaces to provide optical zoom without changing their overall positions relative to one another - allowing the user to view either a wide-angle image or zoom in on an area of interest with a compact, low-power system. A piezoelectric actuator electro-mechanically changes the flex of the lenses, achieving the correct position within 250 milliseconds to an accuracy of 100 nanometers, about 1/100th the thickness of a human hair. These actuators operate the way the muscles of the human eye change the curvature of the eye's lens to focus far away or up close. In addition to military riflescopes, RAZAR technologies could be used for applications including include medical imaging, binoculars, hunters' scopes, and cell phone cameras where optical zoom is needed to avoid the pixelated images associated with digital zoom.