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DigiLens’ AR Displays to Bragg About

Our nanomaterial is best described as an extraordinarily high-index modulation photopolymer that enables wide field-of-view HUDs and AR displays that can be manufactured at a low cost. With this material, we’re able to record “Bragg gratings” into waveguides with integrated optical features required for high-performance displays. But, unlike traditional Bragg gratings, our gratings can switch on or off at sub-millisecond speed. Our optical capability also drives radical form-factor reduction, providing breakthrough functionality which enables new product categories. With this advantage, our licensed partners can design and build AR-enabled displays with uniquely enabling architectures, allowing their customers to merge their physical and digital world.

We are revolutionizing the design and fabrication of optical waveguides in applications ranging from wearables to automotive HUDs. By applying a consistent and rigorous methodology, DigiLens can support the entire product development cycle from concept evolution to mass production.

By employing a contact-copy printing process, we can offer a significant cost advantage over traditional optical waveguide solutions, especially when it comes to legacy Surface Relief Grating (SRG) waveguides, which get progressively more challenging (and expensive) as the design space expands into full color, wide fields of view. Once mastering has been completed, DigiLens’ copy process remains architecturally agnostic, easily reconfigurable for simple gratings or  complex multiple-grating systems.

Optical Design Tools

Using the DigiLens photopolymer and proprietary holographic recording techniques, many optical functions (we call them optical IP cores) can be combined into a single waveguide. This allows for significant reductions in complexity, replacing bulky refractive optical assemblies with thin stackable planar holographic waveguide.

This optical technology is so advanced it is not yet supported by established optical CAD tools. DigiLens has overcome this hurdle by developing a suite of custom CAD tools for ray-tracing waveguide gratings to enable and support custom designs of the integrated optical devices.

From application designing to mastering, our optical engineering team is uniquely adept at conceiving and adapting a variety of in-house optical IP cores to deliver application-specific holographic waveguide devices.

Typical waveguide cores may include, but are not limited to:

  • Single and Dual Axis Exit Pupil Expansion (EPE)
  • Beam Splitter (BS) for Micro Imagers
  • Illumination and Display Collimation
  • Digital Scanning
  • Patterned and Tapered Diffraction Light Extraction
  • Homogenization
  • De-Speckling

Parts Supply

DigiLens supplies a range of custom parts for a variety of display and imaging applications where the low volume “pilot line” capability must be kept separate from ongoing R&D. DigiLens expanded its manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, CA to maintain its position as the leading innovator of waveguide display products. On a low volume “pilot supply” basis, DigiLens proves its technology to customers, meeting or exceeding their requirements. This is strategically important and convenient for wearable device customers in particular, as developer support is nurtured and applications are proven, before the risk and cost of high volume rollout.

At the heart of DigiLens’s manufacturing facility is the company’s master printing system called the DigiLens M1000, and the contact-copy system called the DigiLens CC2500 series, a toolset that for the first time enables cost effective and consistent “mastering” and “printing” of precision holographic waveguide optics for a variety of applications.

Manufacturing Tools

DigiLens develops, supplies and supports holographic optical waveguide manufacturing machine tools including integrated holographic mastering and copy systems. These tools are currently being used in the manufacture of aerospace-qualified parts. We support an array of transfer services, including on-site training to facilitate the smooth adoption of our technologies to our manufacturing licensees.

DigiLens M1000 Mastering Machine

Using its electrically Switchable Bragg Grating (SBG) technology, DigiLens has developed a Master Printing System called the M1000, that digitally records arrayed or large format Masters suitable for Contact Copy. This tool enables high precision uniform duplication, ideal for 300mm2 and 450mm2 large format masters required for the CC2500 Machine Tool.

DigiLens CC2500 Contact Copy Machine 

DigiLens has developed an automated  Contact Copy System, called the CC2500 series, with almost no transfer quality reduction, high throughput and 300mm2 and 450mm2 large format chucks. This tool exhibits high repeatability, and hence commensurately high individual part yield. Small arrayed parts may be copied and diced providing the low cost, high volume supply demanded by consumer electronics applications.

Materials

Complementing our waveguide technology, DigiLens develops a range of custom materials (available to our customers under license) for volume manufacturing of our holographic optical waveguide based displays, imaging and module based products. Our material is called a Reactive Monomer Liquid Crystal Mix (DigiLens RMLCM) and combines proven LC and monomer components, similar to those used in the LC display industry. A fundamental property of phase gratings is that for a given index modulation, thinner gratings have larger angular bandwidth whilst thicker gratings have smaller angular bandwidth. Our RMLCM’s world-leading index modulation allows our grating to be tailored for use anywhere in this design space enabling unprecedented performance and optical functionality. In addition, we’ve developed a variety of application methods capable of printing very thin gratings with high film uniformity.

Tuned exposure techniques using the CC2500 Contact Copy Machine, minimize the replication losses and low diffraction efficiencies normally encountered in thin grating manufacture. Together, these new custom materials and capabilities allow for the fabrication of gratings with the low haze, high-bandwidth and with high diffraction efficiencies needed for DigiLens’ waveguide applications.

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