Dr Juha Rantala, Founder
From an immersive experience of XR glasses to the mobile phones equipped with sensors for fingerprint scanning and face recognition, the increasing applicability of optics such as 3D sensors and augmented reality devices are gaining significant interest in photonics-based devices. What has partly fueled the development of these applications is nanoimprint lithography (NIL) that reduces the overall manufacturing cost due to decreased complexities while offering the ability for mass production. Here, the material properties of optical elements and components have a major impact on the packaged optical device’s overall performance and form factor.
Understanding these nuances, Inkron develops advanced siloxane-based polymer products for optical devices, optoelectronics packaging, and printed electronics. The company focuses on flat wafer optics that comprise nano features using the NIL (Nano-Imprint Lithography) and other emerging and additive optical manufacturing process like inkjet printing. With this technique Inkron has been developing materials and processes for emerging photonics devices with flat-optics.
As a material science company, Inkron was initially focused on developing siloxanes with unique optical and electrical properties for adhesives and encapsulation materials. Gradually, the company has been transforming from being siloxane maker into additive optics manufacturing.
“We knew the combination of NIL with the materials we produce would offer a unique solution to the additive photonics and XR market,” says Inkron Founder Dr Juha Rantala.
Inkron works with customers to develop materials and processes customized for their designs and system requirements. The company can replicate material properties in small scale before moving to large-scale manufacturing. To make the entire additive process more efficient, the company also enables inkjet printing on certain areas of the wafer and nanoimprint the selected section rather than coating the material all over.
We knew the combination of NIL with the materials we produce would offer a unique solution to the additive photonics and flat XR optics market
It is important to note that there is not only a single material for the inkjet and nanoimprinting but a combination of different materials to offer unique and customized prototypes for the clients. According to Jukka Perento, VP Operations, Inkron, “We have an upstream capability wherein we can synthesize novel monomers and polymers and make novel compositions with or without nano particles.” Instead of using off-the-shelf polymer options, Inkron is unique on the market since it can design new monomer molecules in-house and polymerise those for a specific target.
Inkron believes that networking and cooperation with other industrial partners can drive the product performance and markets towards the targeted outcome. In one instance, Inkron collaborated with SCHOTT glass (high refractive index substrate manufacturer), EVG (tool manufacturer), and WaveOptics (waveguide designer and manufacturer). These companies optimized full process from the coating materials and substrates to the manufacturing capability to the final AR waveguide product.
In the future, Inkron would like their clients to know them as not only a material supplier but additionally as an alpha-series producer of the first devices. They are focusing on building turn-key packages on wafer-level, photonic circuits and ultimately photonic quantum computing for the LiDAR market as a part of their 10-year horizon. “Our customers will get the material, process, and first devices out of the door since we provide turn-key capabilities,” concludes Rantala.