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START OF BMBF-FUNDED NANOFILM PROJECT: ANTENNAS FOR TAILORED LIGHT


Whether in virtual reality glasses, in automotive head-up displays or as a hologram projector - light and light sources are no longer used solely for lighting rooms or equipment. Light in a variety of forms is, on the contrary, a precision tool, a measuring instrument, and an information carrier. "However, the optical systems with which complex light fields are generated are often very complex, bulky and expensive," says ACP principal scientist Isabelle Staude. This is what the physicist want to change now. In a consortium together with colleagues from ACP, RWTH Aachen University, the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Bonn, the goal to bring light to a variety of new applications in a tailor-made form is targeted. This consortium, coordinated by Staude, officially began its work in early October. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project entitled "Nano-Film - Photonic Nano-Films with Comprehensive Optical Functionality" in the next three years with almost two million Euros.

"We are working on a completely new concept of photonic components," says Dr. Staude. The basis of the novel optical systems are nanostructured films. Here, these nanoscale films of different materials are made up of innumerable tiny "antennas" - nanostructures, which are produced by lithographic processes and which can produce complex light fields with clearly defined and especially tailored properties. Such nanostructured films have been under development for several years. "We want to further advance this concept," says Dr. Staude, explaining a project goal. Thus the idea was to integrate the light sources directly into the films and make the resulting properties actively tuneable.

With such films, different macroscopic optical systems such as lenses can be reproduced - which are just as precise but many times lighter and more flexible. For this purpose, the members of the research group provide expertises for very different materials and aspects of nanophotography. Even though it is currently the foundations for new optical components, the partners are already targeting cross-sector application potentials of their nanofilms. "Such systems can be used, for example, for sensors, new microscopy methods or for night vision equipment," says Dr. Staude. Further possible areas of use result in the man-machine interaction, eg in the form of highly integrated display applications. "We are already in touch with several companies to ensure the industrial usability of our research results."

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Figure: ACP principal scientist Isabelle Staude in one of her newly equipped labs inside the ACP building.

>> link to the press release issued by the Friedrich Schiller University

>> link to the Staude group

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