Optical applications for the automotive sector

In addition to progressive electrification, the mobility of the future means above all the use of artificial intelligence to develop autonomous vehicles and increasingly networked communication. But topics such as safety and new driving experiences are also pushing the pace of innovation in the market. Photonic systems support the realization of these task complexes, e.g. within the areas of autonomous driving or illumination and lighting technology. The development of more compact optical systems, without losses on image quality and resistance to external influences, is also at the center of considerations.

The selection of materials for optical components and systems is the first important step for innovative applications. In addition to very high image quality, optics should also be highly resistant to external environmental influences. Especially when processing IR materials, which can be used e.g. within night driving systems, outstanding surface shape tolerances must be guaranteed. asphericon produces optics for the automotive sector e.g. from the following materials:

Types and shapes of optics can be as diverse as the materials used. asphericon manufactures, measures, and characterizes aspheric lenses, spheres and diffractive elements as well as freeform optics for automotive applications. You can also obtain high-performance optics from us with edge coating and/or laser marking as well as with bevels, bores or steps.

A final processing step can be carried out by coating. The selection of the coating process is customer- and project-specific, whereby almost all spectra (190 - 5100 nm) can be achieved on a wide variety of materials. Our optical coating portfolio includes wavelength-specific, anti-reflection, mirror, filter, IR and metal coatings.

Optical automotive components must be able to withstand extreme climatic conditions, such as temperature fluctuations (e.g. heat, cold) and harsh weather conditions (such as humidity, rain, wind). The quality requirements for the optics to be manufactured are correspondingly high. To test the resistance of the optical components to external influences, asphericon offers a series of extensive (environmental) tests within the respective production process. These include:

  • Realization and documentation of environmental tests according to DIN, MIL-C-675C, MIL-C-48497A, MIL-PRF-13830, DO-160G
  • In-house tests for temperature, humidity, salt spray/solubility and water

Further information is available upon request.

For the realization of various automotive applications complex opto-electronic systems are required, which consist of optics, sensors, and electronic components. The size of the installation space is often limited, which places special demands on the design of the single elements. This is particularly true for optical components, whose design increasingly follows the trend towards miniaturization. Based on specific requirements and individual customer needs, asphericon provides support for sophisticated optical designs. All individual designs are implemented on state-of-the-art CNC-based grinding and polishing machines. Best manufacturing results can also be achieved by monocrystalline machining. asphericon’s fully automatically controlled machining processes enable the production of optics with smallest surface shape deviations.

There are several possible applications for optical components in the automotive sector. Driver assistance systems (e.g. distance measurement, parking assistant) benefit from special camera systems, sensors, and software units. In camera systems, for example, aspheric lenses are used to achieve the best possible imaging results. In the future, the increased use of freeform optics could further improve system performance and advance miniaturization.

Night driving systems are a special type of driving assistance systems. Using a thermal imaging camera, infrared signals can be visualized on a display located in the cockpit, thus making an important contribution to passenger safety. The basis for thermal imaging cameras are high-quality optical components (e.g. spherical and aspheric lenses) in combination with special coatings.

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems are used in the automotive sector to generate three-dimensional images of the environment or to determine distances and speeds. Based on optical components, this technology is intended to enable autonomous driving.

asphericon's product portfolio for the automotive industry includes:

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