27 September 2008 Design of a novel free-form condenser overcoming rotational symmetry limitations
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The importance of condenser optics is the fact that it is the bottleneck limiting efficiency in commercially available projection systems. Efficiency is a key parameter of projector performance, since it augments screen luminance, enabling the system to perform well under increasing levels of ambient light. Conventional condensers use rotational symmetric devices, most of them being elliptic or parabolic mirrors. They perform very far from the theoretical limits for sources such as arc lamps or halogen bulbs. Typical small displays in the 5-15 mm2 etendue range have geometrical efficiencies about 40-50% for the best condensers; although theory allows about 100% (no reflection nor absorption losses are considered). Two basic facts are underlying this effect: The coma aberration of the reflectors and the rotational symmetric image of the source making the source projected image to unfit with the target. Thus, the only way to improve this performance is to generate a free form design that is able to control the shape and rotation of the source projected images. As yet, this can only be done with the SMS3D design method. We present here one of such designs achieving a geometrical efficiency that is 1.8 times that of an elliptical condenser for a 4:1 target aspect ratio and for the range of target etendue with practical interest and 1.5 for 16:9 target. This design uses only 1 additional reflection, i.e., uses a total of 2 reflections from the source to the target. A prototype of this free form condenser has already been built.
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Juan C. Miñano, Juan C. Miñano, Pablo Benítez, Pablo Benítez, José Blen, José Blen, Asunción Santamaría, Asunción Santamaría, "Design of a novel free-form condenser overcoming rotational symmetry limitations", Proc. SPIE 7100, Optical Design and Engineering III, 71000H (27 September 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.794254; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.794254

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