Enabling the Metaverse through mass manufacturing of industry-standard optical waveguide combiners
On demand | Presented live 30 January 2023
Nanoimprinting of surface-relief grating-based waveguides has the potential to result in the best performing Augmented Reality (AR) smart glasses, but there are still many challenges in the design, scaling, and reproducibility of these imprinted waveguides. We presented a promising path toward mass manufacturing of optical waveguide combiners via large-area nanoimprinting at SPIE AR/VR/MR 2022. This alternative route for manufacturing surface-relief gratings on a larger area generated much interest. This follow-up paper presents a further optimized design based on the lessons learned from the previous paper, with a particular focus on quality. The complete value chain with partners is involved throughout the process of this iterative update: from design, mastering, and materials to imprinting and metrology, to prove that this method improves not only the manufacturing throughput but also the waveguide quality. We demonstrate that both the replication and image quality is true to the intended design using large area, high refractive index (1.9 RI), square (300 x 300mm) glass substrates with high refractive index resins (1.9 RI). Our objective is to further establish this new approach towards high-volume and low-cost manufacturing of waveguides based on surface relief gratings as a viable path forward for enabling the Metaverse.
LightTrans International GmbH (Germany)
Dr. Stefan Steiner has been the principal scientist with LightTrans International for about 3 years. He started out as an optical scientist, almost 7 years ago; he is now responsible for the management of customer projects, consulting services, and training courses at LightTrans. Furthermore, he collects and assesses new demands in the field of optical modeling and design that arise from the latest innovative applications on the market and discusses the future development of the Company's fast physical-optics software with the development team. With more than 10 years of experience in micro-structure technology and fabrication, he is responsible for the in-house designs of waveguide devices for augmented and mixed reality, where he draws from the knowledge gained during his Ph.D. work at the University of Jena and Fraunhofer IOF.