For example, the optical glass light pipes used in concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems concentrate and homogenise sunlight before it reaches the surface of the solar cells, which makes CPV systems up to 40% more efficient than conventional photovoltaic systems.
Since these systems are designed for a long service life, components must be essentially maintenance-free and exceptionally durable. Optical glass eliminates the risk of cloudiness found with many polymers, and Docter also provide production of the required free-form-components in industrial quantities.
These same capabilities will also be important when it comes to producing the all-LED headlights of the future, for the life of the free-form-lenses that are used will have to match the exceptionally long service life of high-quality LED light sources.
In the case of CPV power plants, the optical component must uniformly concentrate the rays of the sun on the surface of the solar cell, but the automotive light of the future will have to do exactly the opposite: headlamp LEDs have to project a precise pattern of light onto the road in compliance with legal regulations by using aspheres, free-form lenses or optical arrays.
For automobile designers, three things are critical:
- The high level of functionality required of headlights, especially when LEDs are used as the light source .
- The design that gives headlights a unique look to ensure immediate brand recognition.
- The engineering to achieve a perfect combination of parameters such as power consumption, weight, packaging depth and service life.
To achieve these lighting needs, glass lenses must have a crystal-clear transparency throughout the entire product life, optimal focus and sharpness of the cutoff line through precision surface texturing, a precise distribution for low beam, high beam and daytime running light functions, high temperature stability with a consistently uniform optical performance, and must also facilitate economical production of even the most complex geometry for freedom of design.