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Aug 5th, 2013
$4M for 'freeform optics' development center
New network of experts looks to advance the emerging field of freeform optics through industry/university partnership.
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The development of so-called “freeform optics”, devices with potential applications in head-up displays, LED lighting, remote sensing and astronomy, has received a major funding boost in the US.

A new multidisciplinary center headed up by experts in the emerging technology at the University of Rochester in New York has just landed $4 million through a combination of federal, academic and industry support.

Rochester will join forces with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and industry partners - including Ball Aerospace and Schott North America - in a bid to take the technology out of the laboratory and make it commercially viable.

Jannick Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering at Rochester, has been appointed as the director of the Center for Freeform Optics (CeFO). She said in a statement:

Freeform optics research is applied research and is best done in collaboration with industry – the new center will make this possible.”

The professor also stressed the role that the center will play in educating optics graduate students, adding: “Innovation in this area will require industry to have well-trained employees who can understand the fundamental research and also how to apply it.”

Rochester academics have pioneered the theory behind the freeform approach to optics, developing an understanding of how such surfaces guide light in three dimensions. Together with fabrication and metrology expertise, this will constitute the main focus of the center, whose stated vision is to create “compact, affordable and performant [sic] optical systems that permeate precision technologies of the future”.

Aside from optics, the center will draw upon expertise in mathematics, materials science and instrument design to support what is considered “pre-competitive” research – that is, applied research that is not yet ready for a commercial launch.

To read more: http://optics.org/news/4/7/44



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