Kopin Corporation Announces All-Plastic Pancake® Optics with Excellent Performance

Kopin® Corporation, a leading developer and provider of high-resolution microdisplays and Display subassemblies for defense, enterprise, consumer and medical products, announced it has succeeded in developing all-plastic Pancake® optics with breakthrough performance for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) applications.

This is a major advance and believed to be the first all-plastic Pancake optics in the world with excellent performance. Kopin has applied for three patents on the design, manufacturing processes and system utilization of all plastic Pancake optics, and expects additional filings to follow.

Kopin Corporation Announces All-Plastic Pancake® Optics with Excellent Performance

Pancake optics, compared to other optics designs, can provide a far superior magnified image quality in a much thinner form factor, especially for products with field of views (FOV) ranging from 50 degrees to 100 degrees. However, previous Pancake optics needed at least one spherical glass lens to avoid image artifacts caused by birefringence of the plastic material, but this glass lens added both weight and cost to the lens system. Kopin’s new all-plastic Pancake optics with all aspherical lenses (compared to previous Pancake optics using spherical glass lens) substantially reduce the weight and thickness while significantly improving the image quality – all at a lower cost.

Pancake optics work by reflecting light back and forth within the optical system. In order to reflect the light correctly and avoid image artifacts, the polarization state of light must be precisely controlled. Unfortunately, plastic materials usually have large birefringence that disturbs the polarization state, and until now all-plastic lenses have not been able to overcome the disturbance of the polarization state.

Kopin’s all-plastic two-element Pancake optics have virtually no birefringence. At the core of the technology is a patented aspherical optical lens design that achieves great image performance and processing methods to preserve the negligible birefringence of a special plastic material with unique characteristics. The result is a Pancake optics system with better image quality, much smaller size, lighter weight and lower cost than anything previously available. Kopin’s first all-plastic Pancake optics (named P95) optimized for Kopin’s 1.3” 2.6K x 2.6K organic light emitting diode (OLED) microdisplay (2560 x 2560 resolution) provides a 95° field of view. The center holds an extremely Sharp image with excellent modular transfer function. This sharpness is maintained even out to the edge of the field of view, a critical and difficult to achieve performance feature for VR applications. At just 16mm thickness and only 15g per lens set, the new Pancake optics are dramatically thinner and lighter than the optics used in today’s VR headsets and provides exactly what consumers have been asking for. Combined with Kopin’s 2.6K x 2.6K high-brightness OLED microdisplay, the P95 pancake optics provide a virtual image equivalent to a 250-inch diagonal display viewed at 10-foot distance with excellent image performance for VR applications.

“This major breakthrough represents a foundational milestone for the emerging VR markets. Bulky, heavy headsets have been a major barrier to faster consumer adoption for many years. No more,” said Dr. John C.C. Fan, CEO and founder of Kopin Corporation. “After thorough review of the available optics designs, we believe all-plastic Pancake optics are the best for VR applications that require a very large field of view, excellent image performance, and a super compact size. The challenge of finding a suitable plastic material with the required optical properties has been solved. We believe our Pancake optics are perfect for VR headsets. Our first design, P95, is specifically optimized for use with our 2.6K x 2.6K OLED high-brightness microdisplays. This new technology would be ideal for VR, but we believe this unique optics would also be useful for MR and AR applications. With all-plastic Pancake optics and duo-stack OLED microdisplays, the dream of stylish, super lightweight (< 100 g), compact VR/MR/AR high performance headset products is finally reachable. We plan on offering our new optics as either a stand-alone component or in a module with our OLED microdisplays. We are delighted that we already have the first design-in partner for our P95 optics.”

About Kopin

Kopin Corporation is a leading developer and provider of innovative display and optical technologies sold as critical components and subassemblies for defense, industrial and consumer products. Kopin’s technology portfolio includes ultrasmall Active Matrix Liquid Crystal displays (AMLCD), Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) displays and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays, a variety of optics, and low-power ASICs.