September 17, 2020

New printing material for high refractive microoptics

Compound lens system by Nanoscribe
Compound lens system with two refractive elements printed with Nanoscribe’s IP-n162 photoresin. The novel printing material has a high refractive index of 1.62, which expands the opportunities in creating innovative miniaturized optical systems. Printed by Nanoscribe, optical design by Simon Thiele, TTI GmbH TGU Printoptics

Nanoscribe introduces the new IP-n162 photoresin, a printing material with special properties for microoptical elements such as microlenses, prisms or complex freeform optics. The photoresin features a high refractive index in combination with a high dispersion, which corresponds to a low Abbe number. These properties are particularly beneficial for the 3D Microfabrication of innovative microoptical designs, even without rotational symmetry and compound three-dimensional optical systems. With a low absorption in the infrared region, the photoresin is the best choice for infrared microoptics, but also for applications where low absorption losses are critical such as optical communication, quantum technology and photonics packaging.

The novel printing material IP-n162 is specifically designed for additive manufacturing based on Two-Photon Polymerization. The high refractive index material enables innovative microoptical designs with high shape accuracy and takes high-precision microlenses and freeform 3D microoptics to the next level.

Thanks to their optical properties, high refractive index polymers facilitate a variety of applications related to disruptive technologies. For example, in optoelectronic applications they enhance the visual properties of display devices or camera and projector lenses. Moreover, the availability of these materials for 3D Microfabrication can establish a new class of complex 3D microoptical elements in much smaller sizes than possible with today’s classical technologies. Examples are microlenses in miniaturized imaging systems, endomicroscopy and 3D sensing for AR/VR applications.

Double porro-prism 3D printed by Nanoscribe
A double porro-prism 3D printed with Nanoscribe’s 3D Microfabrication technology and the new high refractive index material IP-n162.

High refractive index photoresin enables powerful microoptics

The main advantage of IP-n162 is its high refractive index of 1.62 at a wavelength of 589 nm. Compared to other Nanoscribe’s Two-Photon Polymerization resins, the new printing material offers the highest refractive index. “A high refractive index photoresin like IP-n162 gives the designer additional freedom to create lenses that are more powerful, thinner, less curved, more compact and that can be also 3D-printed faster and cheaper” comments Simon Thiele, project participant of the BMBF funded project PRINTOPTICS and CTO of the spin-off company of the same name. In this project, Nanoscribe is partnering with the University of Stuttgart and the medical technology company Karl Storz in printing miniature optics on fibers for endoscopy applications.

“The most powerful design I realized with IP-n162 was a complex optical system consisting of two lenses with complete freeform surfaces to achieve a distortion-free image. A special feature is the integrated diffractive lens containing fine stair-structures on the top of the lens to correct the color error”, says Thiele about his experiences with the new photoresin. “The high refractive index of IP-n162 helps to make these steps smaller and to reduce stray light”, Thiele summarizes the advantages of IP-n162.

3D Microfabrication drives a new era of freeform microoptics

In addition, the printing material exhibits a low Abbe number of 25, making it the Nanoscribe resin with the highest dispersion. The optical properties of structures printed with IP-n162 are close to optical polymers typically used in injection molding and can be compared to polycarbonates or polyesters.

One possible application of high dispersion is the fabrication of achromatic optical systems. By printing compound optics, consisting of elements made of a lower refractive index next to a higher refractive index material such as IP-n162, achromatic optical systems can be additively manufactured on the microscale.

Interested in this new photoresin for microoptics? Explore more about IP-n162.

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