Inprentus Enters the Augmented Reality Market Supplying Blazed Grating Masters for Grating-Coupled Waveguides in AR Glasses
Inprentus now offers manufacturing and design services for a core component in the augmented reality optics market. The company’s blazed diffractive waveguide masters can be used for rapid prototyping and mass production of AR headset eyepieces. High-efficiency blazed waveguides can lower power consumption in headset/glasses, offering improved performance and higher manufacturing yield.
Inprentus blazed patterns can include a wide range of blaze angles, variable line spacing for focusing and image correction. Multiple blazed patterns (gratings) can be precisely oriented on a surface to create an AR eyepiece. These structures will be used in the next generation of augmented reality glasses by projecting images from outside of the lens, through the waveguide, and then to the eye without the use of bulky “bird bath” optics or non-blazed waveguide patterns, both of which have drawbacks, including low efficiency and higher product manufacturing costs. The Inprentus nanoscale contact mode lithography technique allows multiple gratings, such as input, expander, and output patterns, to be manufactured using the same setup.
Peter Abbamonte, Inprentus’ Chief Science Officer, noted, “The company’s experience over the past ten years, first as a provider of high value, x-ray diffraction gratings for materials research facilities around the world, then as a producer of gratings for precision spectroscopy and semiconductor lithography, has given us the skills we need to meet the stringent requirements of the AR market.”
A key advantage of mechanical lithography is that it can fabricate blazed, sub-wavelength patterns with the asymmetry needed to couple light into a waveguide with high efficiency. Controlling the facet angles to 0.1 deg accuracy allows exquisite spectral tuning with excellent wavefront flatness (<60 nm), without stitching errors that plague other lithography techniques. Blazed patterns are an established platform for high-volume replication with high fidelity. Ruling two-dimensional gratings, also known as crossed gratings, is also possible by extending current capabilities.
Inprentus is now one of the leading manufacturers of custom blazed diffraction gratings worldwide, having delivered over 50 unique projects for visible light, extreme ultraviolet, and x-ray wavelength applications. Company technology achievements include delivering the lowest blaze angle ever achieved in a mechanically ruled grating, 0.1 deg, in an optic with a length of 480 mm. The company offers established optics engineering services including complete instrument designs, RCWA and FDTD simulations, design-for-manufacturing services, and a full suite of metrology techniques.
Inprentus designs, manufactures, and sells X-ray and EUV diffraction gratings for synchrotron and free electron laser facilities as well as diffraction grating masters for augmented reality optics and spectroscopy applications. The company was founded in 2012 to commercialize an innovative, nano-scale scribing technology. This technology is a general-purpose approach to high-precision patterning of surfaces and is particularly suited to the manufacture of diffractive optics in which features must be shaped with 0.1-degree angular precision and positioned with nanometer precision over distances of tens of centimeters. www.inprentus.com/augmented-reality-waveguide-masters