Sustainable use of light
Light has always played a central role in the history of mankind. Artificially generated light, especially in an industrialized society, affects the quality of people's lives. It needs to be generated primarily at night, requiring the input of a sufficient amount of energy. Recent studies show that, the lighting's demand for electricity is only about 19% of total global electricity use. The MATERIALS Institute has set a goal with the theme "Green Photonics" to contribute to research on the sustainable use and generation of light.
Green Photonics - Applications
"Green Photonics" project combines applications for generating and saving energy, reducing greenhouse gases and efficiently generating light. The associated technologies include photovoltaic, light emitting diode (LED) illumination, optical sensors, and energy-efficient communication technologies as well as energy- and resource-efficient laser production processes.
Examining these technologies in detail, it becomes clear that these seemingly different topics have a number of similarities. LED technology and photovoltaics, for example, are both semiconductor technologies and in both cases optics and optoelectronics play an important role. This means that major research topics, like the optimization of light control and manipulation, have a common base.
In addition, the next few years will bring a variety of innovations. The small size and compact design of LEDs and solar cells (especially of CPV) will reveal completely new possibilities for their integration in many application areas (self-powered lighting systems, medical technology, sensor technology, traffic engineering and communication technologies). Combined with an appropriate lighting management, this opens up completely new approaches and strategies for technological developments and new products.
Optical Design and Manufacturing
Our activities in the area of green photonic technologies aim to offer our customers complete solutions. These range optical simulation and prototyping to support activities for an up scaling of the prototypes to a larger volume, cost-effective fabrication process. The development and design of custom-made optical systems and components actually combines three disciplines: the optical design, the production of optical components and the optical characterization of these components. During the simulation of the virtual prototypes, it is important to consider appropriate aspects of manufacturing and design.
Green Photonics - Virtual Prototyping
Simulation methods used in the research area Green Photonics: Virtual Prototyping include optical ray-tracing (ASAP, Zemax) and wave-optical methods (FDTD Solutions, Virtual Lab), as well as combined ray-tracing and wave-optical simulations. We can tailor-make optical elements and components with structural sizes both smaller and larger than the wavelength of light. The portfolio of optical structures ranges from diffractive and refractive optical elements to free-form micro-optics. In this way, the entire range of optical effects can be used for the purposes of illumination as well as for photovoltaics, sensors and communication.
Green Photonics - Devices
In our research area Green Photonics: Devices, the optical components and systems are manufactured by means of prototyping processes and integrated into laboratory samples. The specific emphasis is on the following research topics
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For, the determination of input parameters for the optical simulation and the characterization of laboratory prototypes, we have a comprehensive portfolio of measurement instruments.
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For additional thermal and compositional studies, we have a competent network of partners with whom we work together in order to offer our customers a One-Stop-Shop to meet all the challenges of technology development.