In an interview for Blogrecherche, an online dissemination platform for IMT-A research activity, Kevin Heggarty explains the purpose and orientation of PHENOmenon.
The scientific goal of the project is very ambitious: high speed direct writing of 3D nanostructured surfaces for optical applications. This translates into producing thousands of millions of individual, high resolution (<200 nm) nanostructures, precisely located on optical substrates, producing, as Kevin puts it, "from few millimeters to cubec centimeters objects, with nanometric precision".
But what makes this project unique are the prospects this opens for industrial applications. Making nanoscale 3D printing useful to industry requires to speed up by orders of magnitude the direct writing process. PHENOmenon will do that by massive parallelization. "Ultimately, the goal is to achieve millions of laser beams in parallel, to significantly improve production speeds". This opens the door for realistic industrialization of the technology to fabricate custom optical systems through nanostructuring (ultraflat optics).
In the interview, the expectations of the industrial partners are highlighted:
"To give a few examples: FNMT, a Spanish public company, is interested in making security holograms on banknotes. The company Thales wants to improve their photovoltaic panels with micro and nano-structured light-gathering surfaces. PSA group wants to equip the interior of its vehicles with holographic buttons. LED-Design and Flexenable will introduce micro-structured 3D components in their polymer lighting devices".