Light Polymers Receives BIRD Foundation Grant

By April 11, 2024 No Comments

The grant supports the company’s efforts to make AR/VR images sharper and AR/VR devices less expensive and lighter.

Santa Clara, CA, April 11, 2024 — Light Polymers is singularly focused on taking its revolutionary liquid crystal polarizing technology mainstream. And to bolster its pursuit of this goal, the 11-year-old Santa Clara, California-based company has received a significant boost: a grant from the U.S.-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.

The Foundation’s stated mission is to encourage and facilitate cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies in a wide range of technology sectors. As a grant recipient, Light Polymers will collaborate with the Israel-based company Hypervision to develop liquid crystal-based polarized coating technology, methods, and systems tailored for Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) optics. The grant supports one of just 10 projects approved by the Foundation’s Board of Governors for 2024.

Optimism for what the grant can accomplish revolves around Light Polymers’ invention in 2019 of a lyotropic liquid crystal material that not only provides exceptional optical performance but that can also be coated directly onto almost any optical component, thus eliminating non-value layers such as carrier films and adhesives. The Light Polmyers-Hypervision joint endeavor will focus on advancing novel thin-films to solve the greatest current challenge facing VR/MR headsets, namely, reducing the thickness of the optics while enhancing the sharpness of virtual images and reducing manufacturing costs.

VR/MR compact optics are based on pancake lenses, which allow devices to be thinner and lighter while yielding sharper images. Today’s solutions require polarization control, achieved through multiple layers and resulting in the unwanted side effects of ghost images along with a costly production process. In short, current in-market solutions do not allow VR/MR headsets to achieve the image quality, slimness, or affordability they need to be widely adopted.

“By replacing the current polarization manipulation films and lamination process in the VR/MR market with our proprietary direct-coating technology, the pancake optics quality and cost-effectiveness can be significantly improved to expedite mass consumer adoption,” said Light Polymers CEO William Bandel, adding, “We could not be more grateful for the BIRD Foundation’s financial support and, more importantly, for its endorsement of our technology. I’m fully aware that BIRD projects are carefully vetted for their potential success, so we’re all confident this project will result in a big win for the VR/MR industry.”  

Hypervision’s second-generation proprietary pancake lens architecture, unveiled in 2023, delivers an impressive 160-degree horizontal field of view (FoV) over 120-degree vertical and edge-to-edge sharpness while maintaining a compact form factor. An upgrade of IP and know-how by Light Polymers for polarization manipulation thin films coatings over flat surfaces into curved and aspheric surfaces would enable Hypervision to meet the VR/MR market demands for high-performance lenses and architecture within acceptable levels of production costs, resulting in optimal market solutions.

“Hypervision’s superior pancake optics—with biggest Field of View, largest eyebox, and edge-to-edge sharpness—is not binded to a standard manufacturing process, thus providing maximum degrees of freedom in optical design,” said Hypervision CEO Arthur Rabner. “The cooperation with Light Polymers on the proprietary polarization control thin films and their application to ashpherical optical surfaces enables us reduce the manufacturing costs and further improve visual fidelity merits. We are very grateful for the BIRD Foundation, US NSI, and the Israeli Innovation Authority for their comprehensive due diligence and the green light for this joint venture.” 

The two companies’ collaboration began early in 2024 upon receipt of the grant; it’s expected to continue over the next two years.

Added Bandel, “I’m confident this collaborative project will put our unique polarizing technology on the Mixed Reality map based on its capacity to significantly enhance visual fidelity and reduce manufacturing costs. And I welcome AR/VR brands, OEMs, suppliers of AR/VR optical designs, and other stakeholders to join us on this exciting journey to enhance the MR experience for end users worldwide.”

Light Polymers’ groundbreaking polarizing technology is easy to adopt. In most cases, customers can use coating equipment they already have or can easily acquire. This means better end products for their customers, a simplified supply chain, and, ultimately, increased profitability. 

About Light Polymers

Light Polymers is a Santa Clara, CA based nanochemistry startup, with Research and Development in Santa Clara and application engineering and manufacturing in Taiwan. With 38 patents granted and 12 pending, we continue to strive to develop our lyotropic liquid crystals materials and process technologies for applications across multiple industries. Contact us today to learn more about our lyotropic liquid crystal technology or to request a sample of our coatable polarizers for evaluation.

# # #

For further information, contact:

William Bandel