Polymer optics

Leaders:  B. Roth
Year:  2011

Polymer-based optics offer great advantages compared to conventional materials due to their enhanced design and machining capabilities. This is especially true in modern optical components and systems. These advantages are:

  • high reliability, robustness and precision
  • low cost
  • high reproducibility
  • high versatility
  • highly integrable

It is possible to drastically reduce the cost of optics by implementing large-area manufacturing methods. However, the process paramters of such large-scale production techniques still have to be better explored and characterized. There is also a need to better understand the optical properties (concerning wear and tear, ageing, environmental considerations... ) and optical design parameters.

The underlying idea of this research project is to realize entirely polymer-based, large-area integrated optical systems. Such a system can be divided into three components, which may be present several times: an emitter, a sensor or transducer and a receiver. The goal is to implement such a transmission setup in a polymer foil which can be used in a variety of ways (e.g. online-monitoring of various physical parameters in the aerospace industry). The advantages of such a structure are its light weight, robustness and the possibility to take measurements in parallel at a wide range of positions (e.g. on an aircraft wing).

To realize these project goals, HOT is collaborating with the Institut für Systemtechnik (IMTEK) of the faculty for applied sciences at the Albert-Ludwig-Universität Freiburg. IMTEK is involved in this project with six out of twenty-two faculty staff, HOT has entered the project with eleven institutes.

With this pooling of resources, a team has been set up which will develop one of the key technologies of the 21st century and make it applicable in the future.