ITA research associate Gerd Hoffmann is developing new methods for printing optical conductive paths on polymer foils by using a conventional printing machine. In future, optical waveguides could for example be used in data communication systems. They have great potential, as they are easily applicable, even to non-uniform surfaces, at a low price.
Hoffmann says: "Today’s quality is not yet high enough to replace glass fibre on short distances effectively." Especially the cross-sections of the waveguides must be "smoothed". Rough waveguide cross-sections are problematic due to attenuation effects.
Not as simple as it seems, the problem requires in truth pure fundamental research. Hoffmann explains why: "For waveguide cross-sections of about 50 micrometres, the process is difficult to control." The scientist is working on it: His research project is still running until 2018.