Patent for Sale:

Light collection and illumination systems employing planar waveguide    

Fundamental patent for a new type of light-directing optical structures for the use in high-efficiency illumination systems, LCD displays, solar modules, and broad variety of light harvesting systems


The patent covers a new optical structure that can be used in two ways: (1) trapping and efficiently collecting the incident light using the total internal reflection; and (2) redistributing light from compact high-power light sources (e.g., LEDs) over a large area and emitting a uniform beam towards any prescribed direction.

As a collector, the new optical structure allows for enhancing the efficiency of light harvesting devices using extremely small amounts of active (light-absorbing) materials thus reducing the system cost and minimizing the raw materials intake. This particularly applies to solar energy harvesting devices including photovoltaic and thermal solar modules, low-profile concentrating collectors and photo-bio reactors, and further applies to high-gain optical sensors and controls.

As an illumination system, the technology adds beam directionality to edge-lit LED panels and allows for dramatically increasing the brightness and energy efficiency of backlighting units (BLU) in LCD displays, wide-area LED lighting luminaires, and edge-lit advertising/information displays.

Primary Application of the Technology

- LED illumination panels
- Backlights for LCD displays
- Edge-lit LED advertising & information displays
- Photovoltaic solar modules
- Solar heat collectors
- Photo-bio reactors
- Bio-fuels production

The Problem Solved by the Technology

Many LED-based illumination systems (e.g., LCD backlights and edge-lit LED lighting panels) lack any beam directionality which results in significant energy waste and insufficient surface brightness due to large amounts of light going into non-functional directions.

Light collection:
Current solar industry trends include further lowering the $/Watt costs by advancing solar module architectures and minimizing the intake of expensive semiconductor materials that absorb and convert light to electricity. However, reducing the thickness of active semiconductor material drastically affects the system efficiency. The incumbent substrate-based light trapping involves chemical etching of the photo-absorbing layer which limits production rate, involves toxic chemicals and is costly and insufficient to meet the technological demand.

How the Technology Solves the Problem

The patented planar waveguide provides some of the most efficient delivery of light from the source to the prescribed location with the required angular pattern and spatial distribution.
This is achieved by using a specially patterned, layered polymeric structure with light-guiding function tailored to capture, transport and release light where needed with extremely low energy losses and with high control of propagation directions.

In illumination systems, the microstructured light-guiding layer intercepts light emitted into non-functional directions and redirects it towards the target. No energy is lost as a result and the on-axis brightness is significantly improved.

In solar panels, it enables complete light absorption using extremely thin active layers without sacrificing the efficiency. The light guiding layer dramatically improves light trapping and eliminates the need of substrate-based texturing, replacing it with a mature, high-speed and inherently low-cost polymer micro-replication process that overcomes the limitations of conventional light harvesting structures.

Competitive Advantage

For illumination applications:
The technology enables focusing and directing the beam emitted from large-area LED light guide panels and dramatically enhances the on-axis brightness of the panels.

For light harvesting applications:
The technology enables collecting light using very small amounts of light-absorbing materials thus providing a low-cost alternative to traditional systems relying on large amounts of expensive semiconductor materials or bulky light-harvesting structures.

The seller would like to be granted a license back.

The seller may consider selling these patents individually.

Additional Information

The portfolio includes a live continuation chain of active applications in which the claimed subject matter can be adjusted to defend against potential future competition.

Acquiring the portfolio will give the buyer the ultimate control over this emerging field of collimating and concentrating waveguide illumination and light-collecting systems.

The portfolio represents a number of fundamental and broad patent claims that cover a diverse spectrum of light collection and illumination systems employing focusing and collimating waveguides. It is also positioned to originate multiple continuation chains covering different classes of illumination systems (e.g., high-brightness backlighting units for LCD displays, directional LED luminaires, etc.) and solar energy systems (e.g., sheet-form concentrating photovoltaic modules), given its early priority and comprehensiveness of the disclosed subject matter.

Patent Summary

U.S. Patent Classes & Classifications Covered in this listing:

Class 136: Batteries: Thermoelectric And Photoelectric

The generic class for primary, secondary, and thermal batteries. It includes the structure of the generator or battery itself, the elements thereof, the methods of preparation, operation, and details, and accessories not provided for in other classes.

Subclass 246: With concentrator, orientator, reflector, or cooling means
Subclass 256: Contact, coating, or surface geometry
Subclass 257: Luminescent layer or optical filter
Subclass 259: With concentrator, housing, cooling means, or encapsulated

Class 359: Optical: Systems And Elements

Optical elements included in this class are: Lenses; Polarizers; Diffraction gratings; Prisms; Reflectors; Filters; Projection screens; Optical Modulators; Optical Demodulators. Among the optical systems included in this class are: Compound lens systems; Light reflecting signalling systems (e.g., retroreflectors); stereoscopic systems; Binocular devices; Systems of lenticular elements; Systems involving light interference; Glare reducing systems; Light dividing and combining systems; Light control systems (e.g., light valves); building illumination with natural light; Systems for protecting or shielding elements; Optical systems whose operation depends upon polarizing, diffracting, dispersing, reflecting, or refracting light; kaleidoscopes. Further included are certain apertures, closures, and viewing devices of a specialized nature which involve no intentional reflection, refraction, or filtering of light rays. This class also includes optical elements combined with another type of structure(s) to constitute an optical element combined with a nonoptical structure or a perfection or improvement in the optical element.

Subclass 619: By surface composed of lenticular elements
Subclass 851: Composite or echelon mirrors or light concentrating array

Class 385: Optical Waveguides

(1) An optical waveguiding element, which conveys light from one point to another through an optically transparent elongated structure by modal transmission, total internal reflection, or total reflectorization. (2) A combination of an optical waveguiding element with an additional broadly recited optical element which couples light or a combination. (3) A combination of an optical waveguiding element with structure which mechanically joins this waveguiding element with another or with a diverse optical element. (4) An optical modulator where the modulation of a light wave characteristic is performed exclusively within an optical waveguiding element. (5) Other miscellaneous devices formed of an optical waveguide (e.g., a waveguide sensing device) and supplemental devices which are limited to use with an optical waveguide (e.g., an external clamp or retainer).

Subclass 33: Lens
Subclass 34: Rod type
Subclass 35: Spherical
Subclass 36: Prism

Class 349: Liquid Crystal Cells, Elements And Systems

Cells, elements, and systems which include molecules of a material having both liquid and crystalline properties. Included in this class are those which have a significant liquid crystal cell detail or liquid crystal response or properties, and in which the liquid crystal controls or changes the optical properties of electromagnetic radiation such as direction, phase, amplitude, frequency, or polarization state. This class also provides for nominal manufacturing methods for producing significant liquid crystal cell structure.

Subclass 57: Lens or prism separate from projection system (i.e., it is not integral part of illumination system)
Subclass 58: Holder, support, frame, or housing
Subclass 59: Including electromagnetic shielding
Subclass 60: Including resilient support member
Subclass 61: Particular illumination
Subclass 62: With integral optical element for guiding or distributing light from the light source
Subclass 63: Specifically for guiding light in a front-lit device
Subclass 64: Diffuser between light source and liquid crystal
Subclass 65: Edge lit type light guide behind liquid crystal
Subclass 66: Louvres
Subclass 67: Reflector having particular shape behind light source