Dec 16, 2022

University of Arizona Uses OpticStudio to Prove the Viability of a Curved HUD/AR Waveguide Combiner

Category: Product News

OpticStudio enables development and optimization of a design that pre-distorts, then corrects a curved waveguide AR image

Holographic waveguides are an ideal combiner type for use in head-up displays (HUDs) and other AR optical systems. However, most commercially successful holographic waveguides use flat surfaces for interfacing with the user. Curved surfaces are more desirable, but with waveguide design, curving the holographic projection introduces a number of aberrations to the image, so designing a curved combiner for HUD and AR becomes much more challenging.

Pierre-Alexandre Blanche, Research Professor at the University of Arizona's Wyant College of Optical Sciences, had the idea to develop a curved waveguide combiner that would better suit modern market requirements for AR wearables and displays. "After finding gaps in the scientific literature for curved waveguides, I started looking into whether it physically possible to achieve," said Blanche. "By using a simple ray tracing model, I became convinced that it was possible, despite the limitations."

Blanche and one of his graduate students, Craig Draper, came up with a solution that involved propagating a pre-distorted image in OpticStudio, and then extracting the aberrated image from the waveguide and restoring its quality by using holographic optical elements (HOEs). OpticStudio enabled them to trace all rays in the HOEs, as well as to conduct coupled-wave analysis of the image diffraction. Using this technique, they could verify the physics in their design calculations, as well as optimize the system prior to its physical implementation.

"OpticStudio is a cornerstone software for ray tracing and other analysis," said Blanche. "Our faculty and students are all well-versed in using it, and I see us doing so long into the future."

Read the full story to find out how Draper and Blanche used OpticStudio to design an optical system that verifies the use of a curved waveguide as a combiner through propagation correction using HOEs. And to learn more about OpticStudio, the industry standard for optical design software, try it for free!