Next-Gen Waveguides at Photonics West

Article By : SCHOTT

Prominent Augmented Reality (AR) companies join forces to accelerate the journey to consumer-grade AR wearable devices. SCHOTT, Inkron, EV Group (EVG), and WaveOptics present the world's first waveguides made on glass substrate with a refractive index of 1.9 and a matching nanostructured polymer – produced on a 300 mm wafer platform ready for mass production.

Consumer-grade Augmented Reality Wearables are one giant step closer. Fostering a new collaboration, SCHOTT announced today the latest update to the SCHOTT RealView™ portfolio of high-refractive-index glass wafers for Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) devices: a 300 mm wafer that allows a wide field of view, up to 65°, that enables a fully immersive user experience thanks to its 1.9 refractive index. Not only will it serve as a substrate for future AR and MR device generations, a proof of concept is now presented.

Larger wafer size with 1.9 refractive index – and optical resins

At Photonics West 2020, the companies will publicly display the industry’s readiness for high volume production of wide field-of-view devices for the first time. Leveraging this novel high-index combination of glass and resin on a 300 mm wafer diameter and proving compatibility with 300 mm mass production equipment paves the way for an efficient and lower-cost manufacturing ecosystem for AR waveguides.

The next milestone on the road to Consumer AR devices

The fabrication of the demonstrator was carried out at EVG’s NIL Photonics Competence Center using its proprietary wafer processing equipment. This included EVG’s recently introduced HERCULES® NIL 300 mm fully modular and integrated UV-NIL system with SmartNIL® technology, which can replicate structures on substrates up to 300 mm in diameter.

Inkron’s high RI resin IOC-133 features high refractive index (1.9) combined with excellent processability and optical properties. These material features combined with the SCHOTT RealView™ substrate and EVG’s process expertise offer the solid foundation for WaveOptics’ waveguide design.

WaveOptics, a leading designer and manufacturer of diffractive waveguides, offers the waveguide technology platforms that now feature the widest range of fields of view (between 15° and 60° diagonal), the largest eye-box and are readily customisable to meet the demands of any customer.

SCHOTT RealView™ glass wafers with a high refractive index are key components of next-gen AR/MR headsets. The glass wafers are the basis for customers’ multi-layered RGB waveguides, and therefore are a key part of the AR/MR display unit that enables an immersive user experience (discover the technology here). SCHOTT offers the broadest product portfolio of the industry with refractive indices from 1.5 to 1.9 at wafer diameters of 100, 150, 200, and 300 mm.

A glass innovation that inspires a whole industry

SCHOTT scientists and glass experts are constantly improving the quality of AR/MR-grade optical glass and fueling the innovation pipeline with next-generation products in its German optical glass competence centers. Simultaneously, SCHOTT has proven mass production experience to consistently fulfill the highest quality demand of the industry prepared to serve the rapidly growing AR market. Regarded as the key component for the full immersion experience, SCHOTT’s RealView™ glass wafers received the 2019 Display Industry Award for Display Component of the Year from the Society of Information Display, SID.

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