The Basics of Lighting Optics

I’ve been writing from time to time about optics, especially related to use in illumination applications. As we learn more about light, what we really want to understand is optics that is the control of light. Let’s take a moment to step back to the basics, and learn a bit more on the optics types available and what they are used for.

Optics: The Science of Light
In fact, optics is a branch of physics: the science of light. Optics technology is concerned with all aspects of the behavior of light and thus covers a broad territory. In the International Year of Light, optics are one of the key-attention area’s, along with a variety of other light based technologies.

What is Optics? Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it.

The Future of Optics
Earlier, I’ve been writing on the ‘Future of Optics Engineering‘ and how the coming of “3D printed optics” will impact and change the future of optics manufacturing. If this topic has your special interest, I can really recommend you reading it!

Below is avideo from the Philips Lighting University, a basic and helpful movie for anyone interested to learn more about lighting optics, light reflection and refraction.


Discover the Miracle of Light: Flying through an Aurora

This beautiful timelapse from space was created from photographs taken from on board the International Space Station (ISS) by the Expedition 40 crew, end of August, 2014. They ISS crew flew right through a massive aurora after a solar mass ejection took place.

Natural Light Display

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky. It originally comes from the Latin word aurora, “sunrise” or the Roman goddess of dawn. The Aurora is especially visible in the high latitude, the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It is caused by the collision of solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles with the high altitude atmosphere: the thermosphere.

Auroral Zone
Most auroras occur in a band known as the ‘auroral zone’, which is typically 3° to 6° wide in latitude. Most often, it is vividly around the spring and autumn equinoxes. The charged particles and solar wind are directed into the atmosphere by the Earth’s magnetosphere. A geomagnetic storm expands the auroral zone to lower latitudes.

Another Time Lapse Sequence
Here’s another great time lapse sequence of photographs taken by another crew of expeditions 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011, who – as far as I know – shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km.

An earlier edit from 2011 by Michael König

Just another great glimpse of Lighting-Inspiration and to celebrate the International Year of Light (IYL2015). Thanks for noticing this unusual but impressive blogpost. Hope you like it as much as I do!

21st Century Optics Design Engineering

“A Day from the life of John” – 21st Century Optics Engineering

Optics system design and engineering is a pretty genious job. To be taken seriously, you’ll need at least a 10+ years of experience before you’re really recognized as a seasoned ‘senior’. Due to todays ongoing digitization, computers are important to most engineers, as with other fields of engineering. They are used with instruments, in optics design creations and simulations, and for many other applications. Optics designers need to extend their skills by frequent training sessions and study new developer skills.

Optical System Design Challenges
Designing optical systems isn’t an easy job. Optics engineers make use of optics to solve problems and to design and build devices that make light do something useful. It comes with real challenges on the system design itself and the engineering work. Developing new optics solutions requires them to understand and apply the science of optics in substantial detail, in order to understand what outcome is physically possible to achieve. But they also must know what is practical in terms of technologies that are available, materials to use, costs they have to count with, design methods that can be applied, etcetera. Fortunately, most of the work is well known and, if extreme projects appear, you can overcome it easily by bringing in the right skills, study, experience or hire someone from your network to help you out.

Optical Design Frustrations
More frustrating are the challenges that are outside of your own capabilities: prohibitively expensive optics design software, manufacturing tolerances, and most likely a torn in the flesh of every designer: the manufacturing tooling needed to prototype and manufacture the real end product. Expensive upfront investments in tooling, uncertainties about the outcome and tooling limitations are real bottlenecks in the freedom and flexibility of today’s optics designer.

But what if…
Tooling is no longer needed? Your minimum order quantity is as low as one piece? Cost effective trial & error and iterations could be implemented? Design freedom is (almost) unlimited? Here’s the video that I promised in my earlier post. Digital 3D printing of functional optics is just around the corner. And it’s amazingly powerful. Watch – … – recognize – …- act!

Let’s break the mold! Help making the life of Optics Designers easier, spread the word by sharing this video!

Rapid Prototyping – The Future

Apart from the passion I have for lighting, 3D printing – also referred to as ‘additive manufacturing’ – is something that intrigues me. Apart from making the production of goods more cost and time efficient, it creates new possibilities in design and manufacturing. Possibilities that you and I never dreamt of before.

Here’s just a quick shot to help you understanding how the 3D printing revolution will change the making of things and impact the global supply chain of goods. I can really recommend you this short video to understand  how the future of rapid prototyping will look like.

By the way, I will share another exciting animation movie on the 3D printing of optics in the next couple of months. Keep watching me!

How LED-lighting and sports perfectly match: night-time LED-snowboarder

For those who share my passion about LED lighting and snowboarding, check out this amazing video of a night-time snowboarder lighting up the last of the winter snow.

Fashion photographer and filmmaker Jacob Sutton swaps the studio for the slopes of Tignes in the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France, with a luminous after hours short starring pro snowboarder. The electrifying film sees the snowboarder light up the snow-covered French hills in a bespoke LED-enveloped suit courtesy of designer and electronics whizz John Spatcher.

A Jacob Sutton movie