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DTU Innovators develop the world’s thinnest eyeglasses

Posted October 4, 2019

ThinLens is developing technology to make super light-weight prescription lenses.

The project will use laser printing to incorporate nanostructure features in a lens that will ultimately make even very high power prescription glasses the thickness of half a millimeter – corresponding to a standard sunglass lens. It will take no longer than 5-30 minutes to make the lens, enabling the customer to receive their new glasses directly at the optician.

We are seeing a significant increase in the number of people with near-sightedness today. The majority by far chooses glasses to correct their vision. However, there are many disadvantages to wearing glasses. Especially glasses with a very high power have a tendency to become heavy and inconvenient. This is one of the reasons why DTU researchers are developing their ThinLens technology that can make super light-weight prescription lenses with nanotechnology.

Reflection of sunset in an eye contact lense. Image credit: SucreRouge via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Reflection of sunset in an eye contact lense. Image credit: SucreRouge via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-4.0

ThinLens aims to make glasses more elegant and convenient by laser printing. The result will be the world’s thinnest eyeglasses. The level of thickness will not increase in high prescription lenses as opposed to the type of glasses we use today.

“We are making the lens by laser printing in a thin layer of nanostructures that we insert into existing glasses. The layer is no more than a few hundred nanometers thick – corresponding to less than a hundredth part of a hair’s breadth”, says co-inventor Prof. Anders Kristensen from DTU Health Tech.

Bringing sustainable development to market

The laser will be able to print the nanostructure lens in no more than 5-30 minutes. Imagine that you can walk into a specs shop, have your eyesight measured and wait comfortably while the optician produces your glasses directly. This is the user experience, which ThinLens is aiming for.

Contributing to sustainable development in industry is a big part of ThinLens’ vision. Their light-weight lenses will impact the health and wellbeing of people who need prescription lenses, but the planned spin-out company is also focused on creating more jobs in local communities. Their product will furthermore reduce the amount of material, transportation and waste from polishing.

Finding the right place for the technology

The years leading up to establishing ThinLens has been quite a journey. According to Prof. Anders Kristensen, the inventors came up with the idea for the technology around 10 years ago, and spent several years on discovering where the technology could have the highest potential. This particular technology was finally deemed to have the highest potential in prescription lenses, and that was the beginning of ThinLens.

The process of finding the right place for your research to flourish is an important part of starting a company. “We have used the feedback from DTU Tech Transfer’s business developers quite a lot, and it has helped us sharpen our focus. They are great at meeting researchers in eye level and giving professional support no matter where in the process we are”, says Prof. Anders Kristensen.

Many successful businesses start with an idea and a drive to develop it into something that can benefit society. One of DTU Tech Transfer’s many functions is to offer support and guidance in order to establish not just many, but the right, companies.

ThinLens also got industry professionals onboard as soon as possible. “It has been important for our journey that we got people with commercial experience or professional knowledge of the trade on board early on. It gave us an entirely different perspective”, says Prof. Anders Kristensen.

Their next step is to develop a prototype. They have recently received DTU’s very first InnoExplorer grant and will spend the funding on developing a pair of prototype glasses that Prof. Anders Kristensen will test on himself.

Source: DTU

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