Aug 12, 2021

Smartphone lens modules

Category: Product News
Zemax solutions help overcome Smartphone design and manufacturing challenges.

Smartphones are one of the most ubiquitous consumer technologies on the planet and contain a host of high-tech optical systems. Most have multiple camera units which present a challenge to designers and manufacturers to meet tough performance, cost and size requirements. In this blog post we will discuss how Zemax solutions can help meet and overcome these challenges.  

Smartphone lens modules  

The lens modules for smartphone cameras are sophisticated with each containing several lens elements. The drive for ever better imaging performance coupled with the need for the modules to be as small as possible to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the phone necessitates complex design forms. Lenses are often highly aspheric in shape. Injection-molded plastic is often used to produce such lenses, in high volumes, at low cost.  

Smartphone with multiple camera units

Design requirements 

Smartphone lenses must typically work over a wide field and at low f-numbers. As mobile phones become thinner total track lengths are often less than 5mm. The range of surface types available in OpticStudio, including Even and Q-type aspheres, provide designers with the flexibility to meet specifications.  

While performance requirements are critical, it is equally important to ensure that the design can be manufactured and will perform well when built. Here a number of considerations come into play. There will be limitations on the specific lens shapes that can be manufactured. Again, OpticStudio provides the capability to analyze properties, such as maximum local surface slope, and control these during optimization to ensure the final optical design is manufacturable.  

Injection molding techniques make possible innovative optomechanical design techniques that have many benefits for mass-produced modules. The lenses can be designed with complex edge features that enable them to be stacked, making assembly easy and removing the need for alignment.

Zemax tools make it straightforward to maximize the possibilities of injection molded optics. An optical design created in OpticStudio can be seamlessly converted into native CAD parts with all optical information intact. With OpticsBuilder, mechanical engineers can create complex lens edges, mounting features and the module housing while utilizing Zemax ray tracing to see straightaway how these components affect the optical performance. In this case, the lenses edges could provide paths for stray light to contaminate the image. OpticsBuilder not only enables the creation of baffles between the lenses, but critically allows designs teams to understand the effectiveness in suppressing sources of stray light.

Smartphone lens modules present a range of challenges to design teams and manufacturers, but Zemax provides the tools needed to get these products to market fast and with confidence.

To learn more about Zemax OpticStudio or OpticsBuilder capabilities, request a free trial. To discuss your specific design needs contact us.

* "The lens design shown in this blog is adapted the following patent: US20190129149A1 “Wide field of view five element lens system”


Chris Normanshire
Industry Customer
Success Manager
Zemax, LLC

Chenfeng Gu
Solution Engineer
Zemax, LLC

Sandrine Auriol
Senior Optical Engineer
Zemax, LLC