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Fresnel Lens: Definition & Meaning


Fresnel Lens Definition

A Fresnel lens is a specialized optical lens that is designed to focus or direct light, similar to a conventional lens, but with a fraction of the thickness and weight. Named after its inventor, French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, this lens achieves its function by using a series of concentric rings or ridges, known as "prisms," that are each a segment of a larger, curved lens.

Key characteristics and applications of the Fresnel lens include:

  1. Design Principle: Instead of being uniformly thick like traditional lenses, a Fresnel lens has a flat or slightly curved surface with a series of stepped ridges. These ridges capture and direct light towards a focal point or along a specific path, enabling the lens to concentrate or spread light as desired.

  2. Lightweight and Economical: Because they use less material than regular lenses of similar size and function, Fresnel lenses are lighter and often more cost-effective to produce.

  3. Solar Energy Concentration: In the context of solar energy, Fresnel lenses can be employed in concentrated solar power (CSP) systems or concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) to focus sunlight onto a small area, enhancing energy capture and conversion efficiency.

  4. Other Applications: Historically, Fresnel lenses were pivotal in lighthouses, enabling the projection of light over long distances. Today, they are also found in overhead projectors, camera flash units, and various optical devices.

For solar energy systems and various optical applications, the Fresnel lens provides a compact and efficient solution to harness, direct, or distribute light effectively.

Usage: "The concentrated photovoltaic system utilized a Fresnel lens to focus sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells, maximizing energy generation from a smaller cell area."

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