Large area polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) flexible optical light guide sheets can be used to create a variety of passive light harvesting and illumination systems for wearable technology, advanced indoor lighting, non-planar solar light collectors, customized signature lighting, and enhanced safety illumination for motorized vehicles. These thin optically transparent micro-patterned polymer sheets can be draped over a flat or arbitrarily curved surface. The light guiding behavior of the optical light guides depends on the geometry and spatial distribution of micro-optical structures, thickness and shape of the flexible sheet, refractive indices of the constituent layers, and the wavelength of the incident light. A scalable fabrication method that combines soft-lithography, closed thin cavity molding, partial curing, and centrifugal casting is described in this paper for building thin large area multi-layered PDMS optical light guide sheets. The proposed fabrication methodology enables the of internal micro-optical structures (MOSs) in the monolithic PDMS light guide by building the optical system layer-by-layer. Each PDMS layer in the optical light guide can have the similar, or a slightly different, indices of refraction that permit total internal reflection within the optical sheet. The individual molded layers may also be defect free or micro-patterned with microlens or reflecting micro-features. In addition, the bond between adjacent layers is ensured because each layer is only partially cured before the next functional layer is added. To illustrate the scalable build-by-layers fabrication method a three-layer mechanically flexible illuminator with an embedded LED strip is constructed and demonstrated.
Robert Green, George K. Knopf, and Evgueni V. Bordatchev, "Multi-layered fabrication of large area PDMS flexible optical light guide sheets," Proc. SPIE 10101, Organic Photonic Materials and Devices XIX, 101010Y (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 01, 2017; Published: 16 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252602.
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