The partnership between the European companies taps into the increasing demand for augmented, mixed, and virtual reality devices
EV Group (EVG), the global semiconductor supplier, has joined forces with Inkron to provide optimised processes and matching high refractive index( RI) materials for the development and production of high-quality diffractive optical element (DOE) structures.
Headquartered in Finland, Inkron is a manufacturer of high and low RI coating materials.
DOE structures include waveguides for augmented/mixed/virtual reality (AR/MR/VR) devices, as well as beam splitters and diffusers for advanced optical sensing used in automotive, consumer electronics and commercial applications.
The partnership is being carried out within EVG's NILPhotonics Competence Center at its headquarters in St. Florian, Austria.
"Demand for wafer-based optical components and sensors across commercial and consumer markets is accelerating at a breakneck pace," said Markus Wimplinger, Corporate Technology Development and IP director at EV Group.
For Wimplinger, the market demand is driving the need for materials and processes that are optimised to meet the performance requirements and production volumes required in these markets.
"Inkron has extensive know-how in optical materials, and is one of the leading manufacturers of high and low RI coatings, making the company an ideal partner to work with at our NILPhotonics Competence Center. Collaborations," he added.
As part of this agreement, Inkron has also purchased an EVG 7200 NIL system for use in its own R&D facility to accelerate the development and qualification of new optical materials.
The EVG 7200 system enables mass manufacturing of micro- and nanoscale structures as small as 30 nm over a large area with unmatched low-force and conformal imprinting, fast high-power exposure and smooth stamp detachment.
The material properties of optical elements and components have a major impact on the overall performance and form factor of the packaged optical device.
Higher RI materials can also provide higher optical density and enable more efficient diffractive optics
For example, higher refractive indices (up to 1.9x and above) enable optimised designs for improved outcoupling of the light, which can significantly increase the field of view of waveguides, providing a more immersive experience in AR/VR headsets.
Higher RI materials can also provide higher optical density and enable more efficient diffractive optics used for beam splitting (such as for facial recognition sensors), supporting further miniaturisation of the optics.
Additional optimisation of high RI materials can provide better contrast due to improved film transparency as well as reduced haze and scattering, while improved resin stability can address more stringent thermal requirements, such as those needed in automotive applications.
We are excited to be teaming up with EV Group to accelerate the introduction of new, optimised and innovative optical material technologies that help to address critical performance roadmaps of our customers
Optimising the high RI materials for NIL processing helps ensure their implementation in volume production.
NIL is a proven method for manufacturing optical elements due to its ability to provide cost-effective patterning of nanometer-scale features at high volume while being insensitive to feature size, shape and complexity.
"We are excited to be teaming up with EV Group to accelerate the introduction of new, optimised and innovative optical material technologies that help to address critical performance roadmaps of our customers," stated Juha Rantala, CEO of Inkron.
"Our nanoimprintable high refractive index materials and matching gap filling coatings, combined with EVG's leading NIL systems, provide critical wafer-level solutions that optics manufacturers need in order to quickly scale up production on their latest products."
EVG's NIL systems form a key component of the company's WLO manufacturing solutions, which enable a multitude of novel optical sensing devices for mobile consumer electronics products.
Key examples include 3D sensing, time of flight, structured light, biometric authentication, facial recognition, iris scan, optical fingerprint, spectral sensing, environmental sensing and infrared imaging.
Other applications include automotive lighting, light carpets, heads-up display, in-car sensing and LiDAR as well as medical imaging for endoscopic cameras, ophthalmic applications and surgical robotics. EVG's WLO solutions are supported by the company's NILPhotonics Competence Center.