Multilayer coextrusion is a polymer processing technology capable of producing films with up to thousands of layers with layer thicknesses in the micro- and nanoscale. Multilayered films with improved properties were successfully coextruded based on nanoscale induced structure-property relationships. Optical properties of nanolayer polymer films were utilized to produce highly reflective photonic materials and novel GRIN lenses for low light and lightweight imaging systems. Nanolayer confinement of crystalline polymer layers in multilayered films has led to orders of magnitude gas barrier enhancement based on inducing long range crystalline phase orientation of in-plane single crystals. Forced assembly coextrusion was also utilized to produce a synergistic composite film structure of PC/PVDF-HFP with enhanced dielectric breakdown and minimal electrical loss or hysteresis for energy storage applications. Design of ‘uneven’ split layer multiplier dies has enabled the coextrusion of gradient layer thickness multilayer films with unique optical and mechanical properties. The highly flexible nature of the forced assembly coextrusion process is an attractive tool for the continued development of a new arena of micro- and nanolayered film systems with improvements or synergistic nanostructure induced product properties.
Manufacturing GRIN Optics
Bio-inspired gradient refractive index (GRIN) polymer lenses posses enhanced focusing power with superior aberration correction as compared to traditional plastic or glass optics. Polymer based GRIN lenses draw their improved optical performance from a nanolayered internal refractive index gradient found in many biological lenses. Examples of naturally occurring GRIN lenses include the human eye (Δn = 0.03), the octopus eye (Δn = 0.15) and the fish eye (Δ = 0.22).
Recent GRIN optic innovations from the Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS) have enabled the fabrication of new bio-inspired, polymer nanolayered based GRIN materials with higher refractive index gradients (Δn up to 0.13) utilizing a series of nanolayered polymeric films. Through an exclusive licensure with CLiPS, PolymerPlus has developed fabrication techniques to supply radial or axial distribution GRIN optics for light weight imagining, light translating, low light imaging, and light collection optical devices. A near term manufacturing program at PolymerPlus aims to increase the production of these lens toward commercial production for high performance applications.
PolymerPlus Multilayer Coextrusion Systemproduced nanolayer film for GRIN optics formation.