Telescope Windows: low-vision scopes to cloaks

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics


We propose building several novel optical instruments that extend the possibilities of conventional ray optics designs by utilising pixellated ray optics.

The Glasgow team has pioneered micro-structured sheets called telescope windows (TWs), currently at the early demonstrator stage, that can perform very general light-ray-direction changes. They consist of arrays of micro-telescopes and can be understood as pixellated optical components (each telescope being a pixel) which introduce, at the boundaries between neighbouring pixels, discontinuities in the transmitted light beams. TWs therefore remove the global continuity of wave fronts, which in turn is assumed in the derivation of a number of properties (and therefore limitations) of light-ray fields. If the pixel size is chosen appropriately, the pixellation can be almost unnoticeable. The vision of this work is that, by replacing globally continuous wave fronts with piecewise continuous wave fronts, the possibilities offered by optics, specifically ray optics, can be significantly extended.

The first applications of this technology form the focus of this proposal:
* TWs can form pixellated transformation-optics (PTO) devices that work across the entire visible wavelength range.
* TWs can distort the view as if the observer was moving at relativistic speed.
*TWs form the basis of novel, low-cost, high-comfort, low-vision aids.

Together, the applicants have the expertise to realise this wide-ranging project: DR is a world leader in micro-machining, enabling us to manufacture TW devices. GL and JG's ophthalmology and commercialisation expertise places us ideally to develop novel low-vision aids. We are also experts in pixellated ray optics (JC), relativity (MH, NG), mathematical physics (CW), and outreach (MH).

We are applying for funding now to enable us to produce demonstrators of TW devices, illustrating the wide applicability of our technology, evaluating the limitations and quality of such devices, and investigating the production methods required for this new class of optical instrumentation.
Description That by arranging arrays of micro-telescopes improved vision is possible without the need for a long telescope optics for patients with poor vision. The pixelation effect of the multiple lenses is not a major limitation in the optical method and the thinness of the optical system is a real benefit to the patient.
Exploitation Route The new "glasses" were tried on several patients and all found an improvement though there was some cross-talk between the lens arrays which we are now trying to remove. Once we have perfected the method to achieve this (painting miniature optics works but Is not practical for reasonable numbers) this may provide a route to making potentially low cost, light weight visual aids for patients.
Sectors Healthcare

Description We worked beyond the grant with local ophthalmologists and opticians to test the new glasses on macular degeneration patients. As a result of this work a modified design was produced which subjects found did improve their perceived vision and were easier to wear, once they were used to the effect, than their previous glasses. We also produced a variation of the design for glaucoma patients which increased their field of view (ie wide angle as opposed to telephoto lenses). Again they found these useful. There is a challenge still with cross-talk between the lenses and we are now investigating an improvement to reduce this problem with a company who has an interest in potentially looking to produce these commercially, though there are questions on exactly how this might be achieved without an initial high cost of tooling. Two of the pairs of glasses were kept by the users despite them clearly being prototypes as they found them useful and we believe they are still using them several years after the end of the project.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

Description Collaboration with Mr Will Innes Newcastle Royal Infirmary 
Organisation Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are now working with Mr Innes (a senior ophthalmic consultant) to develop other aids for patients with significant visual loss using virtual reality methods. We are developing the optical and software tools
Collaborator Contribution Will provides the patient requirements and enables discussions with patients.
Impact A final year physics student has based his undergraduate project on this work.
Start Year 2016
Description Pixelated Transformation Optics 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Physics and Astronomy Department
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design, manufacture and test of prototype low light level vision aids using pixelated transformation optics
Collaborator Contribution Theoretical performance and specifications for pixelated transformation optics
Impact Initial designs and prototypes of pixelated optics aimed at low vision aid applications.
Start Year 2015
Description "What is light", presentation to the general public in association with the International Year of Light. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Part of the Fire and Light Yule festival held in The Old Low Light, North Shields, UK. This is an all day meeting and the talk was given several times and linked to the International Year of light. A number of questions came about as a result of the talk related to vision and what happens when vision goes wrong.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Jeremiah Horrocks Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large public lecture at the University of Central Lancashire also shown on U-Tube
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016