Organic polymers play a key role in a number of important optical applications. Principle among them are as lens materials for consumer eye-wear where their unique combination of high refractive index and optical transmission combined with scratch and fracture resistance have lead to the safe light-weight corrective lenses that are used today. In addition, they are critical in a number of specialized advanced technological applications such as microlens arrays for CCD sensors and encapsulates for light emitting diodes.
Dr. Albert Stiegman has developed a new class of low-density, high refractive index polymers that have optical and mechanical properties that recommend them for a number of current and future optical applications. The polymers are hybrid organic-inorganic materials, the constituents of which contain highly polarizable atoms and groups that contribute to the high refractive indices and excellent optical transparency observed for specific compositions. They can be formed into hard monolithic structures that can be ground and polished to obtain lenses and other optical components. Synthesis of the polymers is technologically simple and from easily obtained components suggesting that their manufacture will be cost effective. Potential applications include eyewear and other consumer optical products such as camera, magnifying glasses and telescopes. In addition, the polymers have excellent adhesive properties that may find application as index-matched adhesives in optical assemblies