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New Diffractive Optical Element Lenses and related industrial services

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SUPERvisionary (New Diffractive Optical Element Lenses and related industrial services)

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2021-02-28

SUPERvisionary project focuses on development of advanced diffractive lenses and aims at revolutionizing market of 3D sensing technologies in consumer electronics. The main applications for the technology are mobile phones and LiDAR systems. Both areas have a demand for low-cost, high-quality optics, which at the same time is light, compact and can be mass produced. This calls for a novel and superior solution, which is being developed by NIL Technology. By applying nanostructures on surfaces, NILT has demonstrated advanced flat diffractive solutions, which meet all these requirements. NILT has unique competences and know-how within mastering and replication of these structures for the sensing applications. Throughout SUPERvisionary project, NILT will expand its core competences to also cover design services, replication services and characterization services – all to bring the technology to the point of commercialization. With the expansion of the competences, NILT will be able to capture a major part of the value chain and enhance its presence on the market.
SUPERvisionary project runs for 24 months and the work to be done has been split over 5 work packages. Milestones and deliverables critical for the implementation of each work package have been defined in the project application. Work follows very well Gantt chart and all the tasks are on track. The detailed progress on individual work packages is described below.
WP 1 Project management and IPR
Objective of this work package is to assure smooth execution of the project, meeting all milestones and deliverables on time and budget and to assure correct IPR management. Project has been running at full speed from the day it was kicked off. Project’s progress and financials are monitored constantly and reported to the management on monthly basis. High-level meeting of work package leaders take place once a month, whereas meeting within the work package teams occur on daily /weekly basis. IPR strategy has been defined and implemented.
WP 2 Design and Optical test services
Objective of this work packages is to mature NILT’s design process, to reduce the overall design lead times, and implement a professional design-for-manufacturing process, including related end-of-line optical design test methodology and facilities. Work on establishing rapid design services follows project Gantt chart and is on track. Within the 12 months of the project, NILT has put in place strong design team, who developed models to design and predict performance of DOEs. That led to more than 80 different design of various optical elements. All these were also fabricated and characterized by the other teams in the project.
Milestone defined as “Optical test service” has been achieved. Optical lab is now equipped with radiometry setup and DOE setup to enable optical characterization of DOE elements.
WP 3 Mastering services
Objective of this work package is to establish professional Mastering Services and services to deliver Replication master tools. Work on establishing professional mastering services follows Gantt chart and is on track. Mastering team has been working very closely with Design and Replication teams and have fabricated all the DOE designed in WP1. This allowed to reach a stable process to manufacture DOE’s This was defined as Milestone 3 and has been successfully achieved. Mastering process has to be further matured to be compatible with high volume manufacturing. Work on replication master tools for WP4 is also on track.
WP 4 Replication services
Objective of this work packages is to develop the pilot replication line and to support prototyping and small/medium scale fabrication of DOE’s for the customers. Work on setting up prototype line for replication of DOE’s , defined as Milestone 4 is achieved. NILT has setup initial prototyping line and cleanroom with the necessary equipment, and expended its team of specialist to operate the line. Replications on the line have started ) and the process is under development. Deliverable 4 defined as “Replication of DOE components demonstrated with lead customer” is on track – NILT is interacting with potential customer and expects to have this deliverable achieved by month 18 (due month).
WP 5 Marketing and commercialization
Objective of this work package is to define and implement the global marketing and commercialization strategy to grow. Work on this work package follows Gantt chart and is on track, however due to Covid-19 restrictions, many of the expected activities had to be cancelled or are taking place on line. Within this work package, NILT has defined and put marketing strategy in place, which was defined as Milestone 5 and has been achieved. NILT has also launched a new website with as strong focus on DOE’s to emphasize their superiority over other technologies available on the market and attract more stakeholders. For this reason, NILT is present on all the relevant events, including SPIE Photonics West, EPIC, Photonics +. As for the commercialization activities, NILT has a constant dialogue with many potential customers and feels a strong interest from the market.
SUPERvisionary project is 100% aligned with NILT’s strategy and has all the attention needed in order to achieve all the project goals. All milestones are met on schedule. The second year is about achieving all the deliverables, and all the work is going as expected.
During the first year, NILT has achieved following: all milestones have been achieved; excellent teams within Design, Mastering and Replication and Engineering have been put in place; excellent collaboration between Design, Mastering, Replication and Engineering teams allowing to make such a good progress within 12 months; stable fabrication processes are now established and are being further optimized; optical lab is well equipped; prototype replication line is in place.
This excellent progress has not only given NILT the right know-how and experience, but also confidence to communicate and display this superior technology to many other actors and potential customers. We expect that by the end of the project, we will have mature mastering process compatible with high volume production, our own small-scale replication line running with standardized process, and several demonstrators to advertise. Regarding the design services, we have already demonstrated reduction in design time greater than 50%. Except from further reduction, we expect that in the nearest future only a few iterations will be necessary to meet the specified requirements. Aside from the technical achievements, NILT’s goal is to have a serious engagement from 1-2 future customers.
By meeting all the targets and project’s objectives, NILT expects to be a supplier of flat optics with enormous potential to solve the existing challenged in 3D sensing industries, which are mainly the cost-, size- and performance related. NILT expects to deliver optical components beyond state-of-the-art with respect to accuracy and light control.
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