US20140049983A1 - Light emitting device comprising a lightguide film and aligned coupling lightguides - Google Patents

Light emitting device comprising a lightguide film and aligned coupling lightguides Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140049983A1
US20140049983A1 US13/988,476 US201113988476A US2014049983A1 US 20140049983 A1 US20140049983 A1 US 20140049983A1 US 201113988476 A US201113988476 A US 201113988476A US 2014049983 A1 US2014049983 A1 US 2014049983A1
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Prior art keywords
light
lightguide
region
coupling lightguides
embodiment
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Abandoned
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US13/988,476
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Anthony John Nichol
Zane Coleman
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FLEx Lighting ll LLC
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FLEx Lighting ll LLC
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Priority to US41525010P priority Critical
Application filed by FLEx Lighting ll LLC filed Critical FLEx Lighting ll LLC
Priority to US13/988,476 priority patent/US20140049983A1/en
Priority to PCT/US2011/061528 priority patent/WO2012068543A1/en
Assigned to FLEX LIGHTING II, LLC reassignment FLEX LIGHTING II, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: COLEMAN, ZANE ARTHUR, NICHOL, ANTHONY JOHN
Assigned to FLEX LIGHTING II, LLC reassignment FLEX LIGHTING II, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: COLEMAN, ZANE A., NICHOL, ANTHONY J.
Publication of US20140049983A1 publication Critical patent/US20140049983A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B6/00Light guides
    • G02B6/0001Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • G02B6/0011Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems the light guides being planar or of plate-like form
    • G02B6/0013Means for improving the coupling-in of light from the light source into the light guide
    • G02B6/0023Means for improving the coupling-in of light from the light source into the light guide provided by one optical element, or plurality thereof, placed between the light guide and the light source, or around the light source
    • G02B6/0028Light guide, e.g. taper
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B6/00Light guides
    • G02B6/0001Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • G02B6/0011Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems the light guides being planar or of plate-like form
    • G02B6/0013Means for improving the coupling-in of light from the light source into the light guide
    • G02B6/0015Means for improving the coupling-in of light from the light source into the light guide provided on the surface of the light guide or in the bulk of it
    • G02B6/0018Redirecting means on the surface of the light guide
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B27/00Other optical systems; Other optical apparatus
    • G02B27/01Head-up displays
    • G02B27/0101Head-up displays characterised by optical features
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B27/00Other optical systems; Other optical apparatus
    • G02B27/01Head-up displays
    • G02B27/017Head mounted
    • G02B27/0172Head mounted characterised by optical features
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B6/00Light guides
    • G02B6/0001Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • G02B6/0011Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems the light guides being planar or of plate-like form
    • G02B6/0033Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide
    • G02B6/0035Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide provided on the surface of the light guide or in the bulk of it
    • G02B6/00362-D arrangement of prisms, protrusions, indentations or roughened surfaces
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B6/00Light guides
    • G02B6/0001Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • G02B6/0011Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems the light guides being planar or of plate-like form
    • G02B6/0033Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide
    • G02B6/0035Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide provided on the surface of the light guide or in the bulk of it
    • G02B6/004Scattering dots or dot-like elements, e.g. microbeads, scattering particles, nanoparticles
    • G02B6/0043Scattering dots or dot-like elements, e.g. microbeads, scattering particles, nanoparticles provided on the surface of the light guide
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B6/00Light guides
    • G02B6/0001Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • G02B6/0011Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems the light guides being planar or of plate-like form
    • G02B6/0033Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide
    • G02B6/005Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide provided by one optical element, or plurality thereof, placed on the light output side of the light guide
    • G02B6/0053Prismatic sheet or layer; Brightness enhancement element, sheet or layer
    • GPHYSICS
    • G02OPTICS
    • G02BOPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS
    • G02B6/00Light guides
    • G02B6/0001Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • G02B6/0011Light guides specially adapted for lighting devices or systems the light guides being planar or of plate-like form
    • G02B6/0033Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide
    • G02B6/0058Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide varying in density, size, shape or depth along the light guide
    • G02B6/0061Means for improving the coupling-out of light from the light guide varying in density, size, shape or depth along the light guide to provide homogeneous light output intensity

Abstract

A light emitting device includes a film-based lightguide and coupling lightguides having ends stacked and aligned. In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a relative position maintaining element that extends beyond the light input surface defined by the stacked ends of an array of coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises an alignment guide or cavity.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/415,250, entitled “Light emitting device comprising a lightguide film and light turning optical element,” filed Nov. 18, 2010, the entire contents of which is incorporated by reference herein.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The subject matter disclosed herein generally relates to light emitting devices such as light fixtures, backlights, frontlights, light emitting signs, passive displays, and active displays and their components and method of manufacture.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Conventionally, in order to reduce the thickness of displays and backlights, edge-lit configurations using rigid lightguides have been used to receive light from the edge of and direct light out of a larger area face. These types of light emitting devices are typically housed in relatively thick, rigid frames that do not allow for component or device flexibility and require long lead times for design changes. The volume of these devices remains large and often includes thick or large frames or bezels around the device. The thick lightguides (typically 2 millimeters (mm) and larger) limit the design configurations, production methods, and illumination modes.
  • The ability to further reduce the thickness and overall volume of these area light emitting devices has been limited by the ability to couple sufficient light flux into a thinner lightguide. Typical LED light sources have a light emitting area dimension of at least 1 mm, and there is often difficulty controlling the light entering, propagating through, and coupled out of the 2 mm lightguide to meet design requirements. The displays incorporating the 2 mm lightguides are typically limited to small displays having a diagonal dimension of 33 centimeters (cm) or less. Many system sizes are thick due to designs that use large light sources and large input coupling optics or methods. Some systems using one lightguide per pixel (such as fiber optic based systems) require a large volume and have low alignment tolerances. In production, thin lightguides have been limited to coatings on rigid wafers for integrated optical components.
  • SUMMARY
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light source having an optical axis; a relative position maintaining element; and a lightguide comprising a film having a thickness not greater than 0.5 millimeters. The lightguide includes a lightguide region and an array of coupling lightguides continuous with the lightguide region. Each coupling lightguide of the array of coupling lightguides terminates in an edge and at least one of the array of coupling lightguides is folded at least partially around the relative position maintaining element such that the edges of the array of coupling lightguides form a stack defining a light input surface. Light from the light source enters into the light input surface and propagates by total internal reflection within each coupling lightguide to the lightguide region. The relative position maintaining element extends past the light input surface in a direction parallel to the optical axis.
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light source and a lightguide comprising a film having a thickness not greater than 0.5 millimeters. The lightguide includes a lightguide region and an array of coupling lightguides continuous with the lightguide region. Each coupling lightguide of the array of coupling lightguides terminates in an edge and at least one of the array of coupling lightguides is folded such that the edges of the array of coupling lightguides form a stack defining a light input surface. The light emitting device also comprises a light redirecting optical element positioned to direct light from the light source to the light input surface such that the light propagates by total internal reflection within each coupling lightguide to the lightguide region. The light redirecting optical element comprises an alignment guide configured to align the light redirecting optical element to the light input surface.
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light source and a lightguide formed from a film having a thickness not greater than 0.5 millimeters. The lightguide includes a lightguide region and an array of coupling lightguides continuous with the lightguide region. Each coupling lightguide of the array of coupling lightguides terminates in an edge and at least one of the array of coupling lightguides is folded such that the edges of the array of coupling lightguides form a stack defining a light input surface. The light emitting device also comprises an alignment guide defining a cavity, wherein light input surface is positioned within the cavity and light from the light source propagates into the light input surface such that that the light propagates by total internal reflection within each coupling lightguide to the lightguide region.
  • In another embodiment, a method of manufacturing a light emitting device comprises separating a plurality of regions in a film with a thickness less than 0.5 millimeters to form a plurality of coupling lightguides continuous with a lightguide region of the film, folding at least one coupling lightguide of the plurality of coupling lightguides such that ends of the plurality of coupling lightguides form a stack defining a light input surface, and positioning a light redirecting optical element to receive light from a light source and transmit the light to the light input surface such that the light propagates within each coupling lightguide to the lightguide region, wherein the light redirecting optical element comprises one of an alignment guide and a cavity defined within the light redirecting optical element configured to align the light input surface with the light redirecting optical element.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light input coupler disposed on one side of a lightguide.
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light input coupler with coupling lightguides folded in the −y direction.
  • FIG. 3 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with three light input couplers on one side of a lightguide.
  • FIG. 4 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with two light input couplers disposed on opposite sides of a lightguide.
  • FIG. 5 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with two light input couplers disposed on the same side of a lightguide wherein the optical axes of the light sources are oriented substantially toward each other.
  • FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with a substantially flat light input surface comprised of flat edges of a coupling lightguide disposed to receive light from a light source.
  • FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with a light input coupler with a light input surface with refractive and flat surface features on the light input surface wherein light totally internal reflects on some outer surfaces similar to a hybrid refractive-TIR Fresnel lens.
  • FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device wherein the coupling lightguides and the light input surface are optically coupled to the light source.
  • FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device wherein the coupling lightguides are held in place by a sleeve and the edge surfaces are effectively planarized by an optical adhesive or material such as a gel between the ends of the coupling lightguides and the sleeve with a flat outer surface adjacent the light source.
  • FIG. 10 is a top view of one embodiment of a backlight emitting red, green, and blue light.
  • FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light input coupler and lightguide with a reflective optical element disposed adjacent a surface.
  • FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a display illuminated by red, green, and blue lightguides wherein the locations of the pixels of the display correspond to light emitting regions of the lightguide separated by color.
  • FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a color sequential display.
  • FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a spatial display (such as a liquid crystal display).
  • FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a display comprising a white light source backlight.
  • FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a display comprising a wavelength converting backlight.
  • FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a display with a backlight comprising a plurality of lightguides emitting different colored light in predetermined spatial patterns.
  • FIG. 18 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising two light input couplers with light sources on the same edge in the middle region oriented in opposite directions.
  • FIG. 19 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising one light input coupler with coupling lightguides folded toward the −y direction and then folded in the +z direction toward a single light source.
  • FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a display optically coupled to a film lightguide.
  • FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a spatial display comprising a film-based lightguide frontlight optically coupled to a reflective spatial light modulator.
  • FIG. 22 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a spatial display comprising a front-lit film lightguide disposed adjacent to a reflective spatial tight modulator.
  • FIG. 23 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a spatial display comprising a front-lit film lightguide optically coupled to a reflective spatial light modulator with light extraction features on a side of the lightguide nearest the reflective spatial light modulator.
  • FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a spatial display comprising a front-lit film lightguide disposed within a reflective spatial light modulator.
  • FIG. 25 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light input coupler disposed adjacent a light source with a light collimating optical element.
  • FIG. 26 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising light coupling lightguides and a light source oriented at an angle to the x, y, and z axis.
  • FIG. 27 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device wherein the coupling lightguides are optically coupled to a surface of a lightguide.
  • FIG. 28 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device wherein the coupling lightguides are optically coupled to the edge of a lightguide.
  • FIG. 29 a is a perspective view of one embodiment for manufacturing a light input coupler comprising an array of coupling lightguides that are substantially within the same plane as the lightguide and the coupling lightguides are regions of a light transmitting film comprising two linear fold regions.
  • FIG. 29 b is a perspective view of one embodiment for manufacturing an input coupler and lightguide comprising translating one of the linear fold regions of FIG. 29 a.
  • FIG. 29 c is a perspective view of one embodiment for manufacturing an input coupler and lightguide comprising translating one of the linear fold regions of FIG. 29 b.
  • FIG. 29 d is a perspective view of one embodiment for manufacturing an input coupler and lightguide comprising translating one of the linear fold regions of FIG. 29 c.
  • FIG. 29 e is a perspective view of one embodiment for manufacturing an input coupler and lightguide comprising translating one of the linear fold regions of FIG. 29 d.
  • FIG. 30 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a reflective display comprising a backlight disposed between the light modulating pixels and the reflective element.
  • FIG. 31 is a top view of one embodiment of an input coupler and lightguide wherein the array of coupling lightguides has non-parallel regions.
  • FIG. 32 is a perspective top view of a portion of the input coupler and lightguide of FIG. 31 with the coupling lightguides folded.
  • FIG. 33 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light input coupler and lightguide comprising a relative position maintaining element disposed proximate a linear fold region.
  • FIG. 34 is a top view of one embodiment of a light input coupler and lightguide comprising bundles of coupling lightguides that are folded twice and recombined in a plane substantially parallel to the film-based lightguide.
  • FIG. 35 a is a top view of one embodiment of a light input coupler and lightguide comprising bundles of coupling lightguides that are folded upwards (+z direction) and combined in a stack that is substantially perpendicular to the plane of the film-based lightguide.
  • FIG. 35 b is a magnification of the region of FIG. 35 a comprising the upward folds of the coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 36 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a lenticular lens array film.
  • FIG. 37 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a lenticular lens array film comprising light extraction features.
  • FIG. 38 is a cross-scetional side view of a section of one embodiment of a display comprising a multi-layer lenticular lens array film.
  • FIG. 39 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with an un-folded lightguide comprising fold regions.
  • FIG. 40 is a perspective view of the light emitting device of FIG. 39 with the lightguide being folded.
  • FIG. 41 is a perspective view of the light emitting device of FIG. 39 folded with the lightguide comprising overlapping folded regions. FIG. 42 is an elevated view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising a first light emitting region disposed to receive light from a first set of coupling lightguides and a second light emitting region disposed to receive light from a second set of coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 43 is an elevated view of the film-based lightguide of FIG. 42 with the lightguides folded.
  • FIG. 44 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with optical redundancy comprising two lightguides stacked in the z direction.
  • FIG. 45 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with a first light source and a second light source thermally coupled to a first thermal transfer element.
  • FIG. 46 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising coupling lightguides with a plurality of first reflective surface edges and a plurality of second reflective surface edges within each coupling lightguide.
  • FIG. 47 is an enlarged perspective view of the input end of the coupling lightguides of FIG. 46.
  • FIG. 48 is a cross-sectional side view of the coupling lightguides and light source of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising index matching regions disposed between the core regions of the coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 49 is a top view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising an array of tapered coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 50 is a perspective top view of a light emitting device of one embodiment comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 49 and a light source.
  • FIG. 51 is a perspective top view of an embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the light emitting device of FIG. 50 wherein the tapered coupling lightguides and light source are folded behind the light emitting region.
  • FIG. 52 is a top view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising an array of angled, tapered coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 53 is a perspective top view of a light emitting device of one embodiment comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 52.
  • FIG. 54 is a top view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising a first and second array of angled, tapered coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 55 is a perspective top view of a light emitting device of one embodiment comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 54.
  • FIG. 56 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a lightguide, coupling lightguides and a curved mirror.
  • FIG. 57 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a lightguide, coupling lightguides, and a curved mirror with two curved regions.
  • FIG. 58 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a lightguide and two light input couplers comprising coupling lightguides that have been folded behind the light emitting region of the light emitting device.
  • FIG. 59 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a lightguide with coupling lightguides on two orthogonal sides.
  • FIG. 60 is a cross-sectional side view of a portion of a light emitting device of one embodiment comprising a lightguide and a light input coupler wherein a low contact area cover is physically coupled to the light input coupler.
  • FIG. 61 shows an enlarged portion of FIG. 60 of the region of the lightguide in contact with the low contact area cover.
  • FIG. 62 is a side view of a portion of a light emitting device of one embodiment comprising a lightguide and a light input coupler protected by a low contact area cover.
  • FIG. 63 is a perspective view of a portion of a film-based lightguide of one embodiment comprising coupling lightguides comprising two flanges on either side of the end region of the coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 64 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising a light input coupler and lightguide comprising a relative position maintaining element disposed proximal to a linear fold region.
  • FIG. 65 is a perspective view of one embodiment of relative position maintaining element comprising rounded angled edge surfaces.
  • FIG. 66 is a perspective view of one embodiment of relative position maintaining element comprising rounded angled edge surfaces and a rounded tip.
  • FIG. 67 is a perspective view of a portion of a film-based lightguide of one embodiment comprising coupling lightguides comprising two flanges on either side of the end region of the coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 68 is a perspective view of a portion of the light emitting device of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 62.
  • FIG. 69 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with two light input couplers, a first light source, and a second light source disposed on opposite sides of a lightguide.
  • FIG. 70 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a lightguide, a light input coupler, and a light reflecting film disposed between the light input coupler and the light emitting region.
  • FIG. 71 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stack of coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from a light collimating optical element and a light source.
  • FIG. 72 is a cross-sectional side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 71.
  • FIG. 73 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stack of coupling lightguides physically coupled to a collimating optical element.
  • FIG. 74 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source adjacent a light turning optical element optically coupled to a stack of coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 75 a is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed adjacent a lateral edge of a stack of coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges.
  • FIG. 75 b is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed adjacent the light input surface edge of the extended region of a stack of coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges.
  • FIG. 76 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into two light turning optical elements that are optically coupled to two stacks of coupling lightguides using an optical adhesive.
  • FIG. 77 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into a bi-directional light turning optical element optically coupled to two stacks of coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 78 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising two light sources disposed to couple light into a bi-directional light turning optical element optically coupled to two stacks of coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 79 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into two stacks of coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges.
  • FIG. 80 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into two overlapping stacks of coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges.
  • FIG. 81 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into a stack of coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges wherein the coupling lightguides have tabs with tab alignment holes.
  • FIG. 82 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into a stack of coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges and registration holes in a low light flux density region.
  • FIG. 83 is a top view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a light source disposed to couple light into a stack of coupling lightguides with a light source overlay tab region for light source registration.
  • FIG. 84 is a top view of one embodiment of a lightguide comprising coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges.
  • FIG. 85 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the lightguide of FIG. 84 with the coupling lightguides folded such that they extend past a lateral edge.
  • FIG. 86 is a top view of one embodiment of a lightguide comprising a non-folded coupling lightguide.
  • FIG. 87 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the lightguide of FIG. 86 wherein the coupling lightguides are folded.
  • FIG. 88 is a top view of one embodiment of a lightguide comprising coupling lightguides with light collimating optical edge regions and light turning optical edge regions.
  • FIG. 89 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 88 wherein coupling lightguides are folded.
  • FIG. 90 is a top view of one embodiment of a lightguide comprising coupling lightguides with extended regions.
  • FIG. 91 is a top view of one embodiment of the lightguide of FIG. 90 with the coupling lightguides folded.
  • FIG. 92 is a top view of one embodiment of a lightguide comprising coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges turning light in two directions and a non-folded coupling lightguide.
  • FIG. 93 is a perspective top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 92 with the coupling lightguides from each side grouped together.
  • FIG. 94 is a perspective top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 92 with the coupling lightguides from the sides interleaved in a stack.
  • FIG. 95 is a top view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges extended in shapes inverted along a first direction.
  • FIG. 96 is a perspective view of a lightguide comprising one embodiment of the lightguide of FIG. 95 folded to form two stacks of coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 97 is a top view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising coupling lightguides with light turning optical edges, light collimating optical edges, and light source overlay tab regions comprising alignment cavities.
  • FIG. 98 is a top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 97 folded to a stack of coupling lightguides positioned over alight source and guided in the z direction by an alignment guide.
  • FIG. 99 is a side view of the light emitting device embodiment of FIG. 98 in the region near the light source.
  • FIG. 100 is a side view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device with coupling lightguides with alignment cavities that do not extend to fit completely over the alignment guide.
  • FIG. 101 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising coupling lightguides with interior light directing edges.
  • FIG. 102 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting display comprising a reflective spatial light modulator and a film-based lightguide frontlight adhered to a flexible connector.
  • FIG. 103 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a light emitting display comprising a lightguide that further functions as a top substrate for a reflective spatial light modulator.
  • FIG. 104 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a film-based lightguide that further functions as a top substrate for the reflective spatial light modulator with the light source disposed on a circuit board physically coupled to the flexible connector.
  • FIG. 105 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting display comprising a reflective spatial light modulator and a film-based lightguide adhered to a flexible connector with the light source physically coupled to a flexible connector.
  • FIG. 106 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a display comprising the light emitting device of FIG. 104 further comprising a flexible touchscreen.
  • FIG. 107 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device with the flexible touchscreen between the film-based lightguide and the reflective spatial light modulator.
  • FIG. 108 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a reflective display comprising a flexible display driver connector and a flexible film-based lightguide frontlight.
  • FIG. 109 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a reflective display comprising a flexible display driver connector and a flexible film-based lightguide frontlight with a light source disposed on a flexible touchscreen film.
  • FIG. 110 is a top view of one embodiment of a film-based lightguide comprising an array of coupling lightguides wherein each coupling lightguide further comprises a sub-array of coupling lightguides.
  • FIG. 111 is a perspective top view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising the film-based lightguide of FIG. 110 wherein the coupling lightguides are folded.
  • FIG. 112 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stacked array of coupling lightguides with core regions comprising vertical light turning optical edges.
  • FIG. 113 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stacked array of coupling lightguides with core regions comprising vertical light turning optical edges and vertical light collimating optical edges.
  • FIG. 114 is a cross-sectional side view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stacked array of coupling lightguides with a cavity and core regions comprising vertical light turning optical edges and light collimating optical edges
  • FIG. 115 is a perspective view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stacked array of coupling lightguides disposed within an alignment cavity of a thermal transfer element.
  • FIG. 116 is a side view of a region of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising a stacked array of coupling lightguides disposed within an alignment guide with an extended alignment arm and an alignment cavity.
  • FIG. 117 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a light emitting device comprising film-based lightguide and a light reflecting optical element that is also a light collimating optical element and light blocking element.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The features and other details of several embodiments will now be more particularly described. It will be understood that particular embodiments described herein are shown by way of illustration and not as limitations. The principal features can be employed in various embodiments without departing from the scope of any particular embodiment. All parts and percentages are by weight unless otherwise specified.
  • DEFINITIONS
  • “Electroluminescent sign” is defined herein as a means for displaying information wherein the legend, message, image or indicia thereon is formed by or made more apparent by an electrically excitable source of illumination. This includes illuminated cards, transparencies, pictures, printed graphics, fluorescent signs, neon signs, channel letter signs, light box signs, bus-stop signs, illuminated advertising signs, EL (electroluminescent) signs, LED signs, edge-lit signs, advertising displays, liquid crystal displays, electrophoretic displays, point of purchase displays, directional signs, illuminated pictures, and other information display signs. Electroluminescent signs can be self-luminous (emissive), back-illuminated (back-lit), front illuminated (front-lit), edge-illuminated (edge-lit), waveguide-illuminated or other configurations wherein light from a light source is directed through static or dynamic means for creating images or indicia.
  • “Optically coupled” as defined herein refers to coupling of two or more regions or layers such that the light passing from one region to the other is not substantially reduced by Fresnel interfacial reflection losses due to differences in refractive indices between the regions. “Optical coupling” methods include methods of coupling wherein the two regions coupled together have similar refractive indices or using an optical adhesive with a refractive index substantially near or between the refractive index of the regions or layers. Examples of “optical coupling” include, without limitation, lamination using an index-matched optical adhesive, coating a region or layer onto another region or layer, or hot lamination using applied pressure to join two or more layers or regions that have substantially close refractive indices. Thermal transferring is another method that can be used to optically couple two regions of material. Forming, altering, printing, or applying a material on the surface of another material are other examples of optically coupling two materials. “Optically coupled” also includes forming, adding, or removing regions, features, or materials of a first refractive index within a volume of a material of a second refractive index such that light propagates from the first material to the second material. For example, a white light scattering ink (such as titanium dioxide in a methacrylate, vinyl, or polyurethane based binder) may be optically coupled to a surface of a polycarbonate or silicone film by inkjet printing the ink onto the surface. Similarly, a light scattering material such as titanium dioxide in a solvent applied to a surface may allow the light scattering material to penetrate or adhere in close physical contact with the surface of a polycarbonate or silicone film such that it is optically coupled to the film surface or volume.
  • “Light guide” or “waveguide” refers to a region bounded by the condition that light rays propagating at an angle that is larger than the critical angle will reflect and remain within the region. In a light guide, the light will reflect or TIR (totally internally reflect) if the angle (α) satisfies the condition
  • a > sin - 1 ( n 2 n 1 ) ,
  • where n1 is the refractive index of the medium inside the light guide and n2 is the refractive index of the medium outside the light guide. Typically, n2 is air with a refractive index of n≈1; however, high and low refractive index materials can be used to achieve light guide regions. The light guide may comprise reflective components such as reflective films, aluminized coatings, surface relief features, and other components that can re-direct or reflect light. The light guide may also contain non-scattering regions such as substrates. Light can be incident on a lightguide region from the sides or below and surface relief features or light scattering domains, phases or elements within the region can direct light into larger angles such that it totally internally reflects or into smaller angles such that the light escapes the light guide. The light guide does not need to be optically coupled to all of its components to be considered as a light guide. Light may enter from any face (or interfacial refractive index boundary) of the waveguide region and may totally internally reflect from the same or another refractive index interfacial boundary. A region can be functional as a waveguide or lightguide for purposes illustrated herein as long as the thickness is larger than the wavelength of light of interest. For example, a light guide may be a 5 micron region or layer of a film or it may be a 3 millimeter sheet comprising a light transmitting polymer.
  • “In contact” and “disposed on” are used generally to describe that two items are adjacent one another such that the whole item can function as desired. This may mean that additional materials can be present between the adjacent items, as long as the item can function as desired.
  • A “film” as used herein refers to a thin extended region, membrane, or layer of material.
  • A “bend” as used herein refers to a deformation or transformation in shape by the movement of a first region of an element relative to a second region, for example. Examples of bends include the bending of a clothes rod when heavy clothes are hung on the rod or rolling up a paper document to fit it into a cylindrical mailing tube. A “fold” as used herein is a type of bend and refers to the bend or lay of one region of an element onto a second region such that the first region covers the second region. An example of a fold includes bending a letter and forming creases to place it in an envelope. A fold does not require that all regions of the element overlap. A bend or fold may be a change in the direction along a first direction along a surface of the object. A fold or bend may or may not have creases and the bend or fold may occur in one or more directions or planes such as 90 degrees or 45 degrees. A bend or fold may be lateral, vertical, torsional, or a combination thereof.
  • Light Emitting Device
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first light source, a light input coupler, a light mixing region, and a lightguide comprising a light emitting region with a light extraction feature. In one embodiment, the first light source has a first light source emitting surface, the light input coupler comprises an input surface disposed to receive light from the first light source and transmit the light through the light input coupler by total internal reflection through a plurality of coupling lightguides. In this embodiment, light exiting the coupling lightguides is re-combined and mixed in a light mixing region and directed through total internal reflection within a lightguide or lightguide region. Within the lightguide, a portion of incident light is directed within the light extracting region by light extracting features into a condition whereupon the angle of light is less than the critical angle for the lightguide and the directed light exits the lightguide through the lightguide light emitting surface.
  • In a further embodiment, the lightguide is a film with light extracting features below a light emitting device output surface within the film and film is separated into coupling lightguide strips which are folded such that they form a light input coupler with a first input surface formed by the collection of edges of the coupling lightguides.
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device has an optical axis defined herein as the direction of peak luminous intensity for light emitting from the light emitting surface or region of the device for devices with output profiles with one peak. For optical output profiles with more than one peak and the output is symmetrical about an axis, such as with a “batwing” type profile, the optical axis of the light emitting device is the axis of symmetry of the light output. In light emitting devices with angular luminous intensity optical output profiles with more than one peak which are not symmetrical about an axis, the light emitting device optical axis is the angular weighted average of the luminous intensity output. For non-planar output surfaces, the light emitting device optical axis is evaluated in two orthogonal output planes and may be a constant direction in a first output plane and at a varying angle in a second output plane orthogonal to the first output plane. For example, light emitting from a cylindrical light emitting surface may have a peak angular luminous intensity (thus light emitting device optical axis) in a light output plane that does not comprise the curved output surface profile and the angle of luminous intensity could be substantially constant about a rotational axis around the cylindrical surface in an output plane comprising the curved surface profile, and thus the peak angular intensity is a range of angles. When the light emitting device has a light emitting device optical axis in a range of angles, the optical axis of the light emitting device comprises the range of angles or an angle chosen within the range. The optical axis of a lens or element is the direction of which there is some degree of rotational symmetry in at least one plane and as used herein corresponds to the mechanical axis. The optical axis of the region, surface, area, or collection of lenses or elements may differ from the optical axis of the lens or element, and as used herein is dependent on the incident light angular and spatial profile, such as in the case of off-axis illumination of a lens or element.
  • Light Input Coupler
  • In one embodiment, a light input coupler comprises a plurality of coupling lightguides disposed to receive light emitting from a light source and channel the light into a lightguide. In one embodiment, the plurality of coupling lightguides are strips cut from a lightguide film such that they remain un-cut on at least one edge but can be rotated or positioned (or translated) substantially independently from the lightguide to couple light through at least one edge or surface of the strip. In another embodiment, the plurality of coupling lightguides are not cut from the lightguide film and are separately optically coupled to the light source and the lightguide. In one embodiment, the light input coupler comprises at least one light source optically coupled to the coupling lightguides which join together in a light mixing region. In another embodiment, the light input coupler is a collection of strip sections cut from a region film which are arranged in a grouping such that light may enter through the edge of a grouping or arrangement of strips. In another embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a light input coupler comprising a core region of a core material and a cladding region or cladding layer of a cladding material on at least one face or edge of the core material with a refractive index less than the core material. In other embodiment, the light input coupler comprises a plurality of coupling lightguides wherein a portion of light from a light source incident on the face of at least one strip is directed into the lightguide such that it propagates in a waveguide condition. The light input coupler may also comprise at least one selected from the group: a strip folding device, a strip holding element, and an input surface optical element.
  • Light Source
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises at least one light source selected from a group: fluorescent lamp, cylindrical cold-cathode fluorescent lamp, flat fluorescent lamp, light emitting diode, organic light emitting diode, field emissive lamp, gas discharge lamp, neon lamp, filament lamp, incandescent lamp, electroluminescent lamp, radiofluorescent lamp, halogen lamp, incandescent lamp, mercury vapor lamp, sodium vapor lamp, high pressure sodium lamp, metal halide lamp, tungsten lamp, carbon arc lamp, electroluminescent lamp, laser, photonic bandgap based light source, quantum dot based light source, high efficiency plasma light source, microplasma lamp. The light emitting device may comprise a plurality of light sources arranged in an array, on opposite sides of lightguide, on orthogonal sides of a lightguide, on 3 or more sides of a lightguide, or on 4 sides of a substantially planer lightguide. The array of light sources may be a linear array with discrete LED packages comprises at least one LED die. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a plurality of light sources within one package disposed to emit light toward a light input surface. In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, or more than 10 light sources.
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises at least one broadband light source that emits light in a wavelength spectrum larger than 100 nanometers. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises at least one narrowband light source that emits light in a narrow bandwidth less than 100 nanometers. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises at least one broadband light source that emits light in a wavelength spectrum larger than 100 nanometers or at least one narrowband light source that emits light in a narrow bandwidth less than 100 nanometers. In one embodiment a light emitting device comprises at least one narrowband light source with a peak wavelength within a range selected from the group: 300 nm-350 nm, 350 nm-400 nm, 400 nm-450 nm, 450 nm-500 nm, 500 nm-550 nm, 550 nm-600 nm, 600 nm-650 nm, 650 nm-700 nm, 700 nm-750 nm, 750 nm-800 nm, and 800 nm-1200 nm. The light sources may be chosen to match the spectral qualities of red, green and blue such that collectively when used in a light emitting device used as a display, the color gamut area is at least one selected from the group: 70% NTSC, 80% MSC, 90% NTSC, 100% NTSC, and 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 95% of the visible CAE u′ v′ color gamut of a standard viewer. In one embodiment, at least one light source is a white LED package comprising a red, green, and blue LED.
  • In another embodiment, at least two light sources with different colors are disposed to couple light into the lightguide through at least one light input coupler. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises at least three light input couplers, at least three light sources with different colors (red, green and blue for example) and at least three lightguides. In another embodiment, a light source further comprises at least one selected from the group: reflective optic, reflector, reflector cup, collimator, primary optic, secondary optic, collimating lens, compound parabolic collimator, lens, reflective region, and input coupling optic. The light source may also comprise an optical path folding optic such as a curved reflector that can enable the light source and possibly heat-sink) to be oriented along a different edge of the light emitting device. The light source may also comprise a photonic bandgap structure, nano-structure or other three-dimensional arrangement that provides light output with an angular FWHM less than one selected from the group: 120 degrees, 100 degrees, 80 degrees, 60 degrees, 40 degrees, and 20 degrees.
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light source emitting light in an angular full-width at half maximum intensity of less than one selected from 150 degrees, 120 degrees, 100 degrees, 80 degrees, 70 degrees, 60 degrees, 50 degrees, 40 degrees, 30 degrees, 20 degrees, and 10 degrees. In another embodiment, the light source further comprises at least one selected from the group: primary optic, secondary optic, and photonic bandgap region, and the angular full-width at half maximum intensity of the light source is less than one selected from 150 degrees, 120 degrees, 100 degrees, 80 degrees, 70 degrees, 60 degrees, 50 degrees, 40 degrees, 30 degrees, 20 degrees, and 10 degrees.
  • LED Array
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a plurality of LEDs or LED packages wherein the plurality of LEDs or LED packages comprises an array of LEDs. The array components (LEDs or electrical components) may be physically (and/or electrically) coupled to a single circuit board or they may be coupled to a plurality of circuit boards that may or may not be directly physically coupled (i.e. such as not on the same circuit board). In one embodiment, the array of LEDs is an array comprising at least two selected from the group: red, green, blue, and white LEDs. In this embodiment, the variation in the white point due to manufacturing or component variations can be reduced. In another embodiment, the LED array comprises at least one cool white LED and one red LED. In this embodiment, the CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is higher than the cool white LED illumination alone. In one embodiment, the CRI of at least one selected from the group: a light emitting region, the light emitting surface, light fixture, light emitting device, display driven in a white mode comprising the light emitting device, and sign is greater than one selected from the group: 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, and 99. In another embodiment, the NIST Color Quality Scale (CQS) of at least one selected from the group: a light emitting region, the light emitting surface, light fixture, light emitting device, display driven in a white mode comprising the light emitting device, or sign is greater than one selected from the group: 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, and 99. In another embodiment, a display comprising the light emitting device has a color gamut greater than 70%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 100%, 105%, 110%, 120%, and 130% that of the NTSC standard. In another embodiment, the LED array comprises white, green, and red LEDs. In another embodiment, the LED array comprises at least one green and blue LED and two types of red LEDs with one type having a lower luminous efficacy or a lower wavelength than the other type of red LED. As used herein, the white LED may be a phosphor converted blue LED or a phosphor converted UV LED.
  • In another embodiment, the input array of LEDs can be arranged to compensate for uneven absorption of light through longer verses shorter lightguides. In another embodiment, the absorption is compensated for by directing more light into the light input coupler corresponding to the longer coupling lightguides or longer lightguides. In another embodiment, light within a first wavelength band is absorbed within the lightguide more than light within a second wavelength band and a first ratio of the radiant light flux coupled into the light input coupler within the first wavelength band divided by the radiant light flux coupled into the light input coupler within the second wavelength band is greater than a second ratio of the radiant light flux emitted from the light emitting region within the first wavelength band divided by the radiant light flux emitted from the light emitting region within the second wavelength band.
  • LED Array Location
  • In one embodiment, a plurality of LED arrays are disposed to couple light into a single light input coupler or more than one light input coupler. In a further embodiment, a plurality of LEDs disposed on a circuit board are disposed to couple light into a plurality of light input couplers that direct light toward a plurality of sides of a light emitting device comprising a light emitting region. In a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises an LED array and light input coupler folded behind the light emitting region of the light emitting device such that the LED array and light input coupler are not visible when viewing the center of the light emitting region at an angle perpendicular to the surface. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a single LED array disposed to couple light into at least one light input coupler disposed to direct light into the light emitting region from the bottom region of a light emitting device. In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first LED array and a second LED array disposed to couple light into a first light input coupler and a second light input coupler, respectively, wherein the first light input coupler and second light input coupler are disposed to direct light into the light emitting region from the top region and bottom region, respectively, of a light emitting device. In a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first LED array, a second LED array, and a third LED array, disposed to couple light into a first light input coupler, a second light input coupler, and a third light input coupler, respectively, disposed to direct light into the light emitting region from the bottom region, left region, and right region, respectively, of a light emitting device. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first LED array, a second LED array, a third LED array, and a fourth LED array, disposed to couple light into a first light input coupler, a second light input coupler, a third light input coupler, and a fourth light input coupler, respectively, disposed to direct light into the light emitting region from the bottom region, left region, right region, and top region, respectively, of a light emitting device.
  • Wavelength Conversion Material
  • In another embodiment, the LED is a blue or ultraviolet LED combined with a phosphor. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light source with a first activating energy and a wavelength conversion material which converts a first portion of the first activating energy into a second wavelength different than the first. In another embodiment, the light emitting device comprises at least one wavelength conversion material selected from the group: a fluorophore, phosphor, a fluorescent dye, an inorganic phosphor, photonic bandgap material, a quantum dot material, a fluorescent protein, a fusion protein, a fluorophores attached to protein to specific functional groups (such as amino groups (active ester, carboxylate, isothiocyanate, hydrazine), carboxyl groups (carbodiimide), thiol (maleimide, acetyl bromide), azide (via click chemistry or non-specifically (glutaraldehyde))), quantum dot fluorophores, small molecule fluorophores, aromatic fluorophores, conjugated fluorophores, a fluorescent dye, and other wavelength conversion material.
  • In one embodiment, the light source comprises a semiconductor light emitter such as an LED and a wavelength conversion material that converts a portion of the light from the emitter to a shorter or longer wavelength. In another embodiment, at least one selected from the group: light input coupler, cladding region, coupling lightguide, input source optic, coupling optic, light mixing region, lightguide, light extraction feature or region, and light emitting surface comprises a wavelength conversion material.
  • Light Input Coupler Input Surface
  • In one embodiment, the light input coupler comprises a collection of coupling lightguides with a plurality of edges forming a light coupler input surface. In another embodiment, an optical element is disposed between the light source and at least one coupling lightguide wherein the optical element receives light from the light source through a light coupler input surface. In some embodiments, the input surface is substantially polished, flat, or optically smooth such that light does not scatter forwards or backwards from pits, protrusions or other rough surface features. In some embodiments, an optical element is disposed to between the light source and at least one coupling lightguide to provide light redirection as an input surface (when optically coupled to at least one coupling lightguide) or as an optical element separate or optically coupled to at least one coupling lightguide such that more light is redirected into the lightguide at angles greater than the critical angle within the lightguide than would be the case without the optical element or with a flat input surface, in another embodiment, the input surface is curved to refract light more light received from the light source into angles within the lightguide greater than the critical angle within the lightguide than would occur with a flat input surface. In another embodiment, the optical element comprises radial or linear Fresnel lens features which refract incident light. In another embodiment, the optical element comprises a refractive-TIR hybrid Fresnel lens (such as one having a low F/# of less than 1.5). In a further embodiment, the optical element is a reflective and refractive optical element. In one embodiment, the light input surface may be formed by machine, cutting, polishing, forming, molding, or otherwise removing or adding material to the lightguide couplers to create a smooth, curved, rounded, concave, convex, rigged, grooved, micro-structured, nano-structured, or predetermined surface shape. In another embodiment, the light input coupler comprises an optical element designed to collect light from the light source and increase the uniformity. Such optical elements can include fly's eye lenses, microlens arrays, integral lenses, lenticular lenses holographic or other diffusing elements with micro-scale features or nano-scale features independent of how they were formed. In another embodiment, the light input coupler is optically coupled to at least one lightguide and at least one light source. In another embodiment, the optical element is at least one selected from the group: diffractive element, holographic element, lenticular element, lens, planar window, refractive element, reflective element, waveguide coupling element, anti-reflection coated element, planar element, and formed portion or region of at least one selected from the group: coupling lightguide, optical adhesive, UV cured adhesive, and pressure sensitive adhesive. The light coupler or an element therein may be comprised of at least one light transmitting material. In another embodiment, an element of the light input coupler or the light input window, lens or surface is a silicone material wherein the ASTM D1003 luminous transmittance change due to exposure to 150 degrees centigrade for 200 hours is less than one selected from the group: 0.5%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%. In another embodiment, the input surface of the coupling lightguides, the coupling lightguides, or the window optically coupled to the input surface is optically coupled using a light transmitting optical adhesive to one or more selected from the group: an optical window, a light source, the outer surface of an LED, a light collimating optical element, a light redirecting optical element, a light turning optical element, an intermediate lens, or a light transmitting optical element.
  • When light propagating in air is incident to a planar light input surface of a light transmitting material with a refractive index higher than 1.3 at high angles from the normal to the interface, for example, much of the light is reflected from the air-input surface interface. One method of reducing the loss of light due to reflection is to optically couple the input surface of the light input coupler to the light source. Another method to reduce this loss is to use a collimation optic or optic that directs some of the light output from the light source into angles closer to the optical axis of the light source. The collimating optic, or optical element, may be optically coupled to the light source, the coupling lightguides, an adhesive, or other optical element such that it directs more light into the coupling lightguides into a total internal reflection condition within the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the light input surface comprises a recessed cavity or concave region such that the percentage of light from a light source disposed adjacent to the cavity or concave region that is reflected from the input surface is less than one selected from the group: 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 3%, and 2%.
  • In another embodiment, the total input area ratio, defined as the total area of the input surface of all of the light input couplers of the light emitting device receiving more than 5% of the total light flux from any light source divided by the total light emitting surface areas of the light sources is greater than one selected from the group: 0.9, 1, 1.5, 2, 4, and 5. In another embodiment, the individual input area ratio, defined as the area of the input surface of a light input coupler of the light emitting device receiving more than 5% of the total light flux received from a light source divided by the light emitting surface area of the light source is greater than one selected from the group: 0.9, 1, 1.5, 2, 4, and 5. The individual input area ratios of a light emitting device may vary for different input couplers and the individual input area ratio for a particular input coupler may be greater or less than the total input area ratio.
  • Input Surface Position Relative to Light Source
  • In one embodiment, the distance between the outer surface of the light source and the input surface of the light input coupler is less than one selected from the group: 3 millimeters, 2 millimeters, 1 millimeter, 0.5 millimeters, and 0.25 millimeters over a time period between just before powering on the light source and the time for a substantially steady-state junction temperature of the light source at a maintained ambient temperature for the light emitting device of 20 degrees Celsius.
  • In one embodiment, an elastic object used to store mechanical energy is disposed to force the outer surface of the light source to be in contact or a predetermined distance from the input surface of the light input coupler. In one embodiment, the elastic object is one selected from the group: tension spring, extension spring, compression spring, torsion spring, wire spring, coiled spring, flat spring, cantilever spring, coil spring, helical spring, conical spring, compression spring, volute spring, hairspring, balance spring, leaf spring, V-spring, Belleville washer, Belleville spring, constant-force spring, gas spring, mainspring, rubber band, spring washer, a torsion bar twisted under load, torsion spring, negator spring, and wave spring. In one embodiment, the elastic object is disposed between the light source or LED array and the housing or other element such as a thermal transfer element such that a force is exerted against the light source or LED array such that the relative distance between the outer light emitting surface of the light source or LED array and the input surface of the light input coupler remains within 0.5 millimeters of a fixed distance over a time period between just before powering on the light source and the time for a substantially steady-state junction temperature of the light source at a maintained ambient temperature for the light emitting device of 20 degrees Celsius.
  • In a further embodiment, a spacer comprises a physical element that substantially maintains the minimum separation distance of at least one light source and at least one input surface of at least one light input coupler. In one embodiment, the spacer is one selected from the group: a component of the light source, a region of a film (such as a white reflective film or low contact area cover film), a component of an LED array (such as a plastic protrusion), a component of the housing, a component of a thermal transfer element, a component of the holder, a component of the relative position maintaining element, a component of the light input surface, a component physically coupled to the light input coupler, light input surface, at least one coupling lightguide, window for the coupling lightguide, lightguide, housing or other component of the light emitting device.
  • In a further embodiment, at least one selected from the group: the film, lightguide, light mixing region, light input coupler, and coupling lightguide comprises a relative position maintaining mechanism that maintains the relative distance between the outer light emitting surface of the light source or LED array and the input surface of the light input coupler remains within 0.5 millimeters of a fixed distance over a time period between just before powering on the light source and the time for a substantially steady-state junction temperature of the light source at a maintained ambient temperature for the light emitting device of 20 degrees Celsius. In one embodiment, the relative position maintaining mechanism is a hole in the lightguide and a pin in a component (such as a thermal transfer element) physically coupled to the light source. For example, pins in a thin aluminum sheet thermal transfer element physically coupled to the light source are registered into holes within the light input coupler (or a component of the light input coupler such as a coupling lightguide) to maintain the distance between the input surface of the light input coupler and the light emitting surface of the light source. In another embodiment, the relative position maintaining mechanism is a guide device.
  • Stacked Strips or Segments of Film Forming a Light Input Coupler
  • In one embodiment, the light input coupler is region of a film that comprises the lightguide and the light input coupler which comprises strip sections of the film which form coupling lightguides that are grouped together to form a light coupler input surface. The coupling lightguides may be grouped together such the edges opposite the lightguide region are brought together to form an input surface comprising of their thin edges. A planar input surface for a light input coupler can provide beneficial refraction to redirect a portion of the input light from the surface into angles such that it propagates at angles greater than the critical angle for the lightguide. In another embodiment, a substantially planar light transmitting element is optically coupled to the grouped edges of coupling lightguides. One or more of the edges of the coupling lightguides may be polished, melted, adhered with an optical adhesive, solvent welded, or otherwise optically coupled along a region of the edge surface such that the surface is substantially polished, smooth, flat, or substantially planarized. This polishing can aide to reduce light scattering, reflecting, or refraction into angles less than the critical angle within the coupling lightguides or backwards toward the light source. The light input surface may comprise a surface of the optical element, the surface of an adhesive, the surface of more than one optical element, the surface of the edge of one or more coupling lightguides, or a combination of one or more of the aforementioned surfaces. The light input coupler may also comprise an optical element that has an opening or window wherein a portion of light from a light source may directly pass into the coupling lightguides without passing through the optical element. The light input coupler or an element or region therein may also comprise a cladding material or region.
  • In another embodiment, the cladding layer is formed in a material wherein under at least one selected from the group: heat, pressure, solvent, and electromagnetic radiation, a portion of the cladding layer may be removed. In one embodiment, the cladding layer has a glass transition temperature less than the core region and pressure applied to the coupling lightguides near the light input edges reduces the total thickness of the cladding to less than one selected from the group: 10%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 90% of the thickness of the cladding regions before the pressure is applied. In another embodiment, the cladding layer has a glass transition temperature less than the core region and heat and pressure applied to the coupling lightguides near the light input edges reduces the total thickness of the cladding regions to less than one selected from the group: 10%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 90% of the thickness of the cladding regions before the heat and pressure is applied. In another embodiment, a pressure sensitive adhesives functions as a cladding layer and the coupling lightguides are folded such that the pressure sensitive adhesive or component on one or both sides of the coupling lightguides holds the coupling lightguides together and at least 10% of the thickness of the pressure sensitive adhesive is removed from the light input surface by applying heat and pressure.
  • Guide Device for Coupling the Light Source to the Light Input Surface of the Light Input Coupler
  • The light input coupler may also comprise a guide that comprises a mechanical, electrical, manual, guided, or other system or component to facility the alignment of the light source in relation to the light input surface. The guide device may comprise an opening or window and may physically or optically couple together one or more selected from the group: light source (or component physically attached to a light source), a light input coupler, coupling lightguide, housing, and electrical, thermal, or mechanical element of the light emitting device. In one embodiment of this device an optical element comprises one or more guides disposed to physically couple or align the light source (such as an LED strip) to the optical element or coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the optical element comprises one or more guide regions disposed to physically couple or align the optical element to the light input surface of the input coupler. The guide may comprise a groove and ridge, hole and pin, male and corresponding female component, or a fastener. In one embodiment, the guide comprises a fastener selected from the group: a batten, button, clamp, clasp, clip, clutch (pin fastener), flange, grommet, anchor, nail, pin, peg, clevis pin, cotter linchpin, R-clip, retaining ring, circlip retaining ring, c-ring retaining ring, rivet, screw anchor, snap, staple, stitch, strap, tack, threaded fastener, captive threaded fasteners (nut, screw, stud, threaded insert, threaded rod), tie, toggle, hook-and-loop strips, wedge anchor, and zipper. In another embodiment, one or more guide regions are disposed to physically couple or align one or more films, film segments (such as coupling lightguides), thermal transfer elements, housing or other components of the light emitting device together.
  • Light Redirecting Optical Element
  • In one embodiment, a light redirecting optical element is disposed to receive light from at least one light source and redirect the light into a plurality of coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the light redirecting optical element is at least one selected from the group: secondary optic, mirrored element or surface, reflective film such as aluminized PET, giant birefringent optical films such as Vikuiti™ Enhanced Specular Reflector Film by 3M Inc., curved mirror, totally internally reflecting element, beamsplitter, and dichroic reflecting mirror or film.
  • In another embodiment, a first portion of light from a light source with a first wavelength spectrum is directed by reflection by a wavelength selective reflecting element (such as a dichroic filter) into a plurality of coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, a first portion of light from a light source with a first wavelength spectrum is directed by reflection by a wavelength selective reflecting element (such as a dichroic filter) into a plurality of coupling lightguides and a second portion of light from a second light source with a second wavelength spectrum is transmitted through the wavelength selective reflecting element into the plurality of coupling lightguides. For example, in one embodiment, a red light from an LED emitting red light is reflected by a first dichroic filter oriented at 45 degrees and reflects light into a set of coupling lightguides. Green light from an LED emitting green light is reflected by a second dichroic filter oriented at 45 degrees and passes through the first dichroic filter into the set of coupling lightguides. Blue light from a blue LED is directed toward and passes through the first and second dichroic filters into the coupling lightguides. Other combinations of light coupling or combining the output from multiple light sources into an input surface or aperture are known in the field of projection engine design and include methods for combining light output from color LEDs onto an aperture such as a microdisplay. These techniques may be readily adapted to embodiments wherein the microdisplay or spatial light modulator is replaced by the input surface of coupling lightguides.
  • Light Collimating Optical Element
  • In one embodiment, the light input coupler comprises a light collimating optical element. A light collimating optical element receives light from the light source with a first angular full-width at half maximum intensity within at least one input plane orthogonal to the input surface and redirects a portion of the incident light from the light source such that the angular full-width at half maximum intensity of the light is reduced in the first input plane. In one embodiment, the light collimating optical element is one or more of the following: a light source primary optic, a light source secondary optic, a light input surface, and an optical element disposed between the light source and at least one coupling lightguide. In another embodiment, the light collimating element is one or more of the following: an injection molded optical lens, a thermoformed optical lens, and a cross-linked lens made from a mold. In another embodiment, the light collimating element reduces the angular full-width at half maximum (FWHM) intensity within a first input plane and a second plane orthogonal to the first input plane.
  • Light Turning Optical Element
  • In one embodiment, a light input coupler comprises a light turning optical element disposed to receive light from a light source with a first optical axis angle and redirect the light to having a second optical axis angle different than the first optical axis angle. In one embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects light by about 90 degrees. In another embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects the optical axis of the incident light by an angle selected from within the range of 75 degrees and 90 degrees within at least one plane. In another embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects the optical axis of the incident light by an angle selected from within the range of 40 degrees and 140 degrees. In one embodiment, the light turning optical element is optically coupled to the light source or the light input surface of the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the light turning optical element is separated in the optical path of light from the light source or the light input surface of the coupling lightguides by an air gap. In another embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects light from two or more light sources with first optical axis angles to light having second optical axis angles different than the first optical axis angles. In a further embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects a first portion of light from a light source with a first optical axis angle to light having a second optical axis angle different than the first optical axis angle. In another embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects light from a first light source with a first optical axis angle to light having a second optical axis angle different from the first optical axis angle and light from a second light source with a third optical axis angle to light having a fourth optical axis angle different from the third optical axis angle.
  • Bi-Directional Light Turning Optical Element
  • In another embodiment, the light turning optical element redirects the optical axis of light from one or more light sources into two different directions. For example, in one embodiment, the middle coupling lightguide of a light input coupler is a non-folded coupling lightguide and the light input ends of two arrays of stacked, folded coupling lightguides are directed toward the middle coupling lightguide. A bi-directional light turning optical element is disposed above the middle coupling lightguide such that a first portion of light from a light source enters the middle coupling lightguide, a second portion of light from the light source is directed in a first direction parallel and toward the input surface of the first stacked array of folded coupling lightguides by the bi-directional light turning optical element, and a third portion of light from the light source is directed in a second direction parallel and toward the input surface of the second stacked array of folded coupling lightguides by the bi-directional light turning optical element. In this embodiment, the light source may be disposed between the lateral edges of the light emitting region or light emitting device and the non-folded coupling lightguide eliminates an otherwise dark region (where there is insufficient room for a folded coupling lightguide) or eliminates the requirement for multiple bends in the coupling lightguides that can introduce further light loss and increase volume requirements.
  • In one embodiment, the bi-directional light turning optical element splits and turns the optical axis of one light source into two different directions. In another embodiment, the bi-directional light turning optical element rotates the optical axis of a first light source into a first direction and rotates the optical axis of a second light source into a second direction different that the first direction. In another embodiment, an optical element, such as an injection molded lens, comprises more than one light turning optical element and light collimating element that are configured to receive light from more than one light source. For example, an injection molded lens comprising a linear array of optical light turning surfaces and light collimating surfaces may be disposed to receive light from a strip comprising a linear array of LEDs such that the light is directed into a plurality of light input couplers or stacks of coupling lightguides. By forming a single optical element to perform light turning and light collimating for a plurality of light sources, fewer optical elements are needed and costs can be reduced, in another embodiment, the bi-directional light turning element may be optically coupled to the light source, the coupling lightguides, or a combination thereof.
  • Light Turning and Light Collimating Optical Element
  • In another embodiment, the light turning optical element turns the optical axis of the light from the light source in a first plane within the light turning element and collimates the light in the first plane, in a second plane orthogonal to the first plane, or a combination thereof. In another embodiment, the light turning optical element comprises a light turning region and a collimating region. In one embodiment, by collimating input light in at least one plane, the light will propagate more efficiently within the lightguide and have reduced losses in the bend regions and reduced input coupling losses into the coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, the light turning optical element is an injection molded lens designed to redirect light from a first optical axis angle to a second optical axis angle different from the first optical axis angle. The injection molded lens may be formed of a light transmitting material such as poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), polycarbonate, silicone, or any suitable light transmitting material. In a further embodiment, the light turning element may be a substantially planar element that redirects light from a first optical axis angle to a second optical axis angle in a first plane while substantially maintaining the optical axis angle in a second plane orthogonal to the first plane. For example, in one embodiment, the light turning optical element is a 1 millimeter (mm) thick lens with a curved profile in one plane cut from a 1 mm sheet of PMMA using a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser cutter,
  • In one embodiment, the light input coupler comprises a light turning optical element or coupling lightguides with light turning edges that permit a light source to be disposed between the extended bounding regions of the sides of the light emitting surface adjacent to the input side of the light from the light source into the lightguide region. In this embodiment, the turning optical element or light turning edges permit the light source to be disposed on the light input side region of the lightguide region without substantially extending beyond either side. Additionally, in this embodiment, the light source may be folded behind the light emitting region of the lightguide such that the light source does not substantially extend beyond an edge of the light emitting region or outer surface of the light emitting device comprising the light emitting region. In another embodiment, the light source is substantially directed with its optical axis oriented toward the light emitting region and the turning optical element or turning edges of the coupling lightguides permit the light to be turned such that it can enter the stacked array of coupling lightguides that are stacked substantially parallel to the input side of the lightguide region and substantially orthogonal to the light source optical axis.
  • Light Coupling Optical Element
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light coupling optical element disposed to receive light from the light source and transmit a larger flux of light into the coupling lightguides than would occur without the light coupling element. In one embodiment, the light coupling element refracts a first portion of incident light from a light source such that it is incident upon the input surface of one or more coupling lightguides or sets of coupling lightguides at a lower incidence angle from the normal such that more light flux is coupled into the coupling lightguides or sets of coupling lightguides (less light is lost due to reflection). In another embodiment, the light coupling optical element is optically coupled to at least one selected from the group: the light source, a plurality of coupling lightguides, a plurality of sets of coupling lightguides, a plurality of light sources.
  • Thermal Stability of Optical Element
  • In another embodiment, the light coupling optical element or light redirecting optical element contains materials with a volumetric average glass transition temperature higher than the volumetric average glass transition temperature of the materials contained within the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the glass transition temperature of the coupling lightguides is less than 100 degrees Centigrade and the glass transition temperature of the light coupling optical element or the light redirecting optical element is greater than 100 degrees Centigrade. In a further embodiment, the glass transition temperature of the coupling lightguides is less than 120 degrees Centigrade and the glass transition temperature of the light coupling optical element or the light redirecting optical element is greater than 120 degrees Centigrade. In a further embodiment, the glass transition temperature of the coupling lightguides is less than 140 degrees Centigrade and the glass transition temperature of the light coupling optical element or the light redirecting optical element is greater than 140 degrees Centigrade. In a further embodiment, the glass transition temperature of the coupling lightguides is less than 150 degrees Centigrade and the glass transition temperature of the light coupling optical element or the light redirecting optical element is greater than 150 degrees Centigrade. In another embodiment, the light redirecting optical element or the light coupling optical element comprises polycarbonate and the coupling lightguides comprise poly(methyl methacrylate). In another embodiment, at least one of the light redirecting optical element and the light coupling optical element is thermally coupled to a thermal transfer element or the housing of the light emitting device.
  • Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguide is a region wherein light within the region can propagate in a waveguide condition and a portion of the light input into a surface or region of the coupling lightguides passes through the coupling lightguide toward a lightguide or light mixing region. The coupling lightguide, in some embodiments, may serve to geometrically transform a portion of the flux from a light source from a first shaped area to a second shaped area different from the first. In an example of this embodiment, the light input surface of the light input coupler formed from the edges of folded strips (coupling lightguides) of a planar film has the dimensions of a rectangle that is 3 millimeters by 2.7 millimeters and the light input coupler couples light into a planar section of a film in the light mixing region with a cross-sectional dimensions of 40.5 millimeters by 0.2 millimeters. In one embodiment, the input area of the light input coupler is substantially the same as the cross-sectional area of the light mixing region or lightguide disposed to receive light from one or more coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the total transformation ratio, defined as the total light input surface area of the light input couplers receiving more than 5% of the light flux from a light source divided by the total cross-sectional area of the light mixing region or lightguide region disposed to receive light from the coupling lightguides is one selected from the group: 1 to 1.1, 0.9 to 1, 0.8 to 0.9, 0.7 to 0.8, 0.6 to 0.7, 0.5 to 0.6, 0.5 to 0.999, 0.6 to 0.999, 0.7 to 0.999, less than 1, greater than 1, equal to 1. In another embodiment, the input surface area of each light input coupler corresponding to the edges of coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from a light source is substantially the same as the cross-sectional area of the light mixing region or lightguide region disposed to receive light from each corresponding coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the individual transformation ratio, defined as the total light input area of a single light input surface of a light input coupler (corresponding to the edges of coupling lightguides) divided by the total cross-sectional area of the light mixing region or lightguide disposed to receive light from the corresponding coupling lightguides is one selected from the group: 1 to 1.1, 0.9 to 1, 0.8 to 0.9, 0.7 to 0.8, 0.6 to 0.7, 0.5 to 0.6, 0.5 to 0.999, 0.6 to 0.999, 0.7 to 0.999, less than 1, greater than 1, equal to 1.
  • In another embodiment, a coupling lightguide is disposed to receive light from at least one input surface with a first input surface longest dimension and transmit the light to a lightguide with a light emitting surface with a light emitting surface longest dimension larger than the first input surface largest dimension. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguide is a plurality of lightguides disposed to collect light from at least one light source through edges or surfaces of the coupling lightguides and direct the light into the surface, edge, or region of a lightguide comprising a light emitting surface. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides provide light channels whereby light flux entering the coupling lightguides in a first cross sectional area can be redistributed into a second cross sectional area different from the first cross sectional area at the light output region of the light input coupler. The light exiting the light input coupler or light mixing region may then propagate to a lightguide or lightguide region which may be a separate region of the same element (such as a separate region of the same film). In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light source and a film processed to form a lightguide region with light extraction features, a light mixing region wherein light from a plurality of sources, light input couplers, or coupling lightguides mixes before entering into the lightguide region. The coupling lightguides, light mixing region, and light extraction features may all be formed from, on, or within the same film and they may remain interconnected to each other through one or more regions.
  • In one embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide is disposed to receive light from a plurality of light sources of at least two different colors, wherein the light received by the coupling lightguide is pre-mixed angularly, spatially, or both by reflecting through the coupling lightguide and the 9-spot sampled spatial color non-uniformity, Δu′v′, of the light emitting surface of the light emitting device measured on the 1976 u′, v′ Uniform Chromaticity Scale as described in VESA Flat Panel Display Measurements Standard Version 2.0, Jun. 1, 2001 (Appendix 201, page 249) is less than one selected from the group: 0.2, 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, and 0.004 when measured using a spectrometer based spot color meter.
  • Coupling Lightguide Folds and Bends
  • In one embodiment, light emitting device comprises a light mixing region disposed between a lightguide and strips or segments cut to form coupling lightguides, whereby a collection of edges of the strips or segments are brought together to form a light input surface of the light input coupler disposed to receive light from a light source. In one embodiment, the light input coupler comprises a coupling lightguide wherein the coupling lightguide comprises at least one fold or bend in one plane such that at least one edge overlaps another edge. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguide comprises a plurality of folds or bends wherein edges of the coupling lightguide can be abutted together in region such that the region forms a light input surface of the light input coupler of the light emitting device.
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light input coupler comprising at least one coupling lightguide that is bent or folded such that light propagating in a first direction within the lightguide before the bend or fold is propagating in a second direction different that the first within the lightguide after the bend or fold.
  • In one embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide comprises a strip or segment that is bent or folded to radius of curvature of less than 75 times the thickness of the strip or segment. In another embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide comprises a strip or segment that is bended or folded to radius of curvature greater than 10 times the times the thickness of the strip or segment. In another embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide is bent or folded such that longest dimension in a cross-section through the light emitting device or coupling lightguide in at least one plane is less than without the fold or bend. Segments or strips may be bent or folded in more than one direction or region and the directions of folding or bending may be different between strips or segments.
  • Optical Efficiency of the Light Input Coupler
  • In an embodiment, the optical efficiency of the light input coupler, defined as the percentage of the original light flux from the light source that passes through the light input coupler light input surface and out of the light input coupler into a mixing region, lightguide, or light emitting surface, is greater than one selected from the group: 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 95%. The degree of collimation can affect the optical efficiency of the light input coupler.
  • Collimation of Light Entering the Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: light source, light collimating optical element, light source primary optic, light source secondary optic, light input surface, optical element disposed between the light source and at least one selected from the group: coupling lightguide, shape of the coupling lightguide, shape of the mixing region, shape of the light input coupler, and shape of an element or region of the light input coupler provides light incident to the light input surface or within the coupling lightguide with an angular full-width of half maximum intensity chosen from the group: less than 80 degrees, less than 70 degrees, less than 60 degrees, less than 50 degrees, less than 40 degrees, less than 30 degrees, less than 20 degrees, less than 10 degrees, between 10 degrees and 30 degrees, between 30 degrees and 50 degrees, between 10 degrees and 60 degrees and between 30 degrees and 80 degrees within a first plane orthogonal to the input surface. In some embodiments, light which is highly collimated (FWHM of about 10 degrees or less) does not mix spatially within a lightguide region with light extracting features such that there may be dark bands or regions of non-uniformity. In this embodiment, the light, however, will be efficiently coupled around curves and bends in the lightguide relative to less collimated light and in some embodiments, the high degree of collimation enables small radii of curvature and thus a smaller volume for the fold or bend in a light input coupler and resulting light emitting device. In another embodiment, a significant portion of light from a light source with a low degree of collimation (FWHM of about 120 degrees) within the coupling lightguides will be reflected into angles such that it exits the coupling lightguides in regions near bends or folds with small radii of curvature. In this embodiment, the spatial light mixing (providing uniform color or luminance) of the light from the coupling lightguides in the lightguide in areas of the light extracting regions is high and the light extracted from lightguide will appear to have a more uniform angular or spatial color or luminance uniformity.
  • In one embodiment, light from a light source is collimated in a first plane by a light collimating optical element and the light is collimated in a second plane orthogonal to the first plane by light collimating edges of the coupling lightguide. In another embodiment, a first portion of light from a light source is collimated by a light collimating element in a first plane and the first portion of light is further collimated in a second plane orthogonal to the first plane, the first plane, or a combination thereof by collimating edges of one or more coupling lightguides. In a further embodiment, a first portion of light from a light source is collimated by a light collimating element in a first plane and a second portion of light from the light source or first portion of light is collimated in a second plane orthogonal to the first plane, the first plane, or a combination thereof by collimating edges of one or more coupling lightguides.
  • In another embodiment, one or more coupling lightguides is bent or folded and the optical axis of the light source is oriented at a first redirection angle to the light emitting device optical axis, oriented at a second redirection angle to a second direction orthogonal to the light emitting device optical axis, and oriented at a third redirection angle to a third direction orthogonal to the light emitting device optical axis and the second direction. In another embodiment, the first redirection angle, second redirection angle, or third redirection angle is about one selected from the group: 0 degrees, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 135 degrees, 180 degrees, 0-90 degrees, 90-180 degrees, and 0-180 degrees.
  • Each light source may be oriented at a different angle. For example, two light sources along one edge of a film with a strip-type light input coupler can be oriented directly toward each other (the optical axes are 180 degrees apart). In another example, the light sources can be disposed in the center of an edge of a film and oriented away from each other (the optical axes are also 180 degrees apart).
  • The segments or strips may be once folded, for example, with the strips oriented and abutting each other along one side of a film such that the light source optical axis is in a direction substantially parallel with the film plane or lightguide plane. The strips or segments may also be folded twice, for example, such that the light source optical axis is substantially normal to the film plane or normal to the waveguide.
  • In one embodiment, the fold or bend in the coupling lightguide, region or segment of the coupling lightguide or the light input coupler has a crease or radial center of the bend in a direction that is at a bend angle relative to the light source optical axis. In another embodiment, the bend angle is one selected from the group: 0 degrees, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 135 degrees, 180 degrees, 0-90 degrees, 90-180 degrees, and 0-180 degrees.
  • The bend or fold may also be of the single directional bend (such as vertical type, horizontal type, 45 degree type or other single angle) or the bend or fold or be multi-directional such as the twisted type wherein the strip or segment is torsional. In one embodiment, the strip, segment or region of the coupling lightguide is simultaneously bent in two directions such that the strip or segment is twisted.
  • In another embodiment, the light input coupler comprises at least one light source disposed to input light into the edges of strips (or coupling lightguides) cut into a film wherein the strips are twisted and aligned with their edges forming an input surface and the light source output source area is substantially parallel with the edge of the coupling lightguide, lightguide, lightguide region, or light input surface or the optical axis of the light source is substantially perpendicular to the edge of the coupling lightguide, lightguide, lightguide region, or light input surface. In another embodiment, multiple light sources are disposed to couple light into a light input coupler comprising strips cut into a film such that at least one light source has an optical axis substantially parallel to the lightguide edge, coupling lightguide lateral edge or the nearest edge of the lightguide region. In another embodiment, two groupings of coupling lightguides are folded separately toward each other such that the separation between the ends of the strips is substantially the thickness of the central strip between the two groupings and two or more light sources are disposed to direct light in substantially opposite directions into the strips. In one embodiment, two groupings of coupling lightguides are folded separately toward each other such and then both folded in a direction away from the film such that the edges of the coupling lightguides are brought together to form a single light input surface disposed to receive light from at least one light source. In this embodiment, the optical axis of the light source may be substantially normal to the substantially planar film-based lightguide.
  • In one embodiment, two opposing stacks of coupling lightguides from the same film are folded and recombined at some point away from the end of the coupling apparatus. This can be accomplished by splitting the film into one or more sets of two bundles, which are folded towards each other. In this embodiment, the bundles can be folded at an additional tight radius and recombined into a single stack. The stack input can further be polished to be a flat single input surface or optically coupled to a flat window and disposed to receive light from a light source.
  • In one embodiment, the combination of the two film stacks is configured to reduce the overall volume. In one embodiment, the film is bent or folded to a radius of curvature greater than 10× the film thickness order to retain sufficient total internal reflection for a first portion of the light propagating within the film.
  • In another embodiment, the light input coupler comprises at least one coupling lightguide wherein the coupling lightguide comprises an arcuate reflective edge and is folded multiple times in a fold direction substantially parallel to the lightguide edge or nearest edge of the lightguide region wherein multiple folds are used to bring sections of an edge together to form a light input surface with a smaller dimension. In another embodiment, the light coupling lightguide, the strips, or segments have collimating sections cut from the coupling lightguide which directs light substantially more parallel to the optical axis of the light source. In one embodiment, the collimating sections of the coupling lightguide, strips or segments direct light substantially more parallel to the optical axis of the light source in at least one plane substantially parallel to the lightguide or lightguide region.
  • In a further embodiment, a light input coupler comprises at least one coupling lightguide with an arc, segmented arc, or other light redirect edge cut into a film and the light input coupler comprises a region of the film rolled up to form a spiral or concentric-circle-like light input edge disposed to receive light from a light source.
  • Coupling Lightguide Lateral Edges
  • In one embodiment, the lateral edges, defined herein as the edges of the coupling lightguide which do not substantially receive light directly from the light source and are not part of the edges of the lightguide. The lateral edges of the coupling lightguide receive light substantially only from light propagating within the coupling light guide. In one embodiment, the lateral edges are at least one selected from the group: of uncoated, coated with a reflecting material, disposed adjacent to a reflecting material, and cut with a specific cross-sectional profile. The lateral edges may be coated, bonded to or disposed adjacent to a specularly reflecting material, partially diffusely reflecting material, or diffuse reflecting material. In one embodiment, the edges are coated with a specularly reflecting ink comprising nano-sized or micron-sized particles or flakes which substantially reflect the light in a specular manner when the coupling lightguides are brought together from folding or bending. In another embodiment, a light reflecting element (such as a multi-layer mirror polymer film with high reflectivity) is disposed near the lateral edge of at least one region of a coupling lightguide disposed, the multi-layer mirror polymer film with high reflectivity is disposed to receive light from the edge and reflect it and direct it back into the lightguide. In another embodiment, the lateral edges are rounded and the percentage of incident tight diffracted out of the lightguide from the edge is reduced. One method of achieving rounded edges is by using a laser to cut the strips, segments or coupling lightguide region from a film and edge rounding through control of the processing parameters (speed of cut, frequency of cut, laser power, etc.). Other methods for creating rounded edges include mechanical sanding/polishing or from chemical/vapor polishing. In another embodiment, the lateral edges of a region of a coupling lightguide are tapered, angled serrated, or otherwise cut or formed such that light from a light source propagating within the coupling lightguide reflects from the edge such that it is directed into an angle closer to the optical axis of the light source, toward a folded or bent region, or toward a lightguide or lightguide region.
  • Width of Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, the dimensions of the coupling lightguides are substantially equal in width and thickness to each other such that the input surface areas for each edge surface are substantially the same. In another embodiment, the average width of the coupling lightguides, w, is determined by the equation:

  • w=MF*W LES /NC,
  • where WLES is the total width of the light emitting surface in the direction parallel to the light entrance edge of the lightguide region or lightguide receiving light from the coupling lightguide, NC is the total number of coupling lightguides in the direction parallel to the light entrance edge of the lightguide region or lightguide receiving light from the coupling lightguide, and MF is the magnification factor. In one embodiment, the magnification factor is one selected from the group: 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 0.7-1.3, 0.8-1.2, and 0.9-1.1. In another embodiment, at least one selected from the group: coupling lightguide width, the largest width of a coupling waveguide, the average width of the coupling lightguides, and the width of each coupling lightguides is selected from the group: 0.5 mm-1 mm, 1 mm-2 mm, 2 mm-3 mm, 3 mm-4 mm, 5 mm-6 mm, 0.5 mm-2 mm, 0.5 mm-25 mm, 0.5 mm-10 mm, 10-37 mm, and 0.5 mm-5 mm. In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: the coupling lightguide width, the largest width of a coupling waveguide, the average width of the coupling lightguides, and the width of each coupling lightguides is less than 20 millimeters.
  • Shaped or Tapered Coupling Lightguides
  • The width of the coupling lightguides may vary in a predetermined pattern. In one embodiment, the width of the coupling lightguides varies from a large width in a central coupling lightguide to smaller width in lightguides further from the central coupling lightguide as viewed when the light input edges of the coupling lightguides are disposed together to form a light input surface on the light input coupler. In this embodiment, a light source with a substantially circular light output aperture can couple into the coupling lightguides such that the light at higher angles from the optical axis are coupled into a smaller width strip such that the uniformity of the light emitting surface along the edge of the lightguide or lightguide region and parallel to the input edge of the lightguide region disposed to receive the light from the coupling lightguides is greater than one selected from the group: 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% and 95%.
  • Other shapes of stacked coupling lightguides can be envisioned, such as triangular, square, rectangular, oval, etc. that provide matched input areas to the light emitting surface of the light source. The widths of the coupling lightguides may also be tapered such that they redirect a portion of light received from the light source. The lightguides may be tapered near the light source, in the area along the coupling lightguide between the light source and the lightguide region, near the lightguide region, or some combination thereof.
  • In some embodiments, one light source will not provide sufficient light flux to enable the desired luminance or light output profile desired for a particular light emitting device. In this example, one may use more than one light input coupler and light source along the edge or side of a lightguide region or lightguide mixing region. In one embodiment, the average width of the coupling lightguides for at least one light input coupler are in a first width range selected from the group: 1-3, 1.01-3, 1.01-4, 0.7-1.5, 0.8-1.5, 0.9-1.5, 1-2, 1.1-2, 1.2-2, 1.3-2, 1.4-2, 0.7-2, 0.5-2, and 0.5-3 times the largest width of the light output surface of the light source in the direction of the lightguide coupler width at the light input surface.
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguide dimensional ratio, the ratio of the width of the coupling lightguide (the width is measured as the average dimension orthogonal to the general direction of propagating within the coupling lightguide toward the light mixing region, lightguide, or lightguide region) to the thickness of the coupling lightguide (the thickness is the average dimension measured in the direction perpendicular to the propagating plane of the light within the coupling lightguide) is greater than one selected from the group: 5:1, 10:1, 15:1, 20:1, 25:1, 30:1, 40:1, 50:1, 60:1, 70:1, and 100:1. In one embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide is less than 600 microns and the width is greater than 10 millimeters. In one embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide is less than 400 microns and the width is greater than 3 millimeters. In a further embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide is less than 400 microns and the width is greater than 10 millimeters. In another embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide is less than 300 microns and the width is less than 10 millimeters. In another embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide or light transmitting film is less than 200 microns and the width is less than 20 millimeters. Imperfections at the lateral edges of the coupling lightguides (deviations from perfect planar, flat surfaces due to the cutting of strips, for example) can increase the loss of light through the edges or surfaces of the coupling lightguides. By increasing the width of the coupling lightguides, one can reduce the effects of edge imperfections since the light within the coupling lightguide bounces (reflects) less off of the lateral edge surfaces (interacts less with the surface) in a wider coupling lightguide than a narrow coupling lightguide for a give range of angles of light propagation. The width of the coupling lightguides is a factor affecting the spatial color or luminance uniformity of the light entering the lightguide region, light mixing region, or lightguide, and when the width of the coupling lightguide is large compared to the width (in that same direction) of the light emitting region, then spatially non-uniform regions can occur.
  • In another embodiment, the ratio of width of the light emitting surface area disposed to receive at least 10% of the light emitted from a grouping of coupling lightguides forming a light input coupler in a direction parallel to the width of the coupling lightguides to the average width of the coupling lightguides is greater than one selected from the group: 5:1, 15:1, 20:1, 25:1, 30:1, 40:1, 50:1, 60:1, 70:1, 100:1, 150:1, 200:1, 300:1, 500:1, and 1000:1. In another embodiment, the ratio of the total width of the total light emitting surface disposed to receive the light emitted from all of the coupling lightguides directing light toward the light emitting region or surface along the width to the average coupling lightguide width is greater than one selected from the group: 5:1, 15:1, 20:1, 25:1, 30:1, 40:1, 50:1, 60:1, 70:1, 100:1, 150:1, 200:1, 300:1, 500:1, and 1000:1.
  • In one embodiment, the width of the coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.8, 2, 3, 4, and 5 times the width of the light output surface of the light source disposed to couple light into the coupling lightguide. In another embodiment, the larger coupling lightguide width relative to the width of the light output surface of the light source allows for the a higher degree of collimation (lower angular full-width at half maximum intensity) by the light collimating edges of the coupling lightguides.
  • Light Turning Edges of the Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, one or more coupling lightguides have an edge shape that optically turns by total internal reflection a portion of light within the coupling lightguide such that the optical axis of the light within the coupling lightguide is changed from a first optical axis angle to a second optical axis angle different than the first optical axis angle. More than one edge of one or more coupling lightguides may have a shape or profile to turn the light within the coupling lightguide and the edges may also provide collimation for portions of the light propagating within the coupling lightguides. For example, in one embodiment, one edge of a stack of coupling lightguides is curved such that the optical axis of the light propagating within the lightguide is rotated by 90 degrees. In one embodiment, the angle of rotation of the optical axis by one edge of a coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees, 45 degrees, 60 degrees, 80 degrees, 90 degrees, and 120 degrees. In another embodiment, the angle of rotation of the optical axis by more than one edge region of a coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees, 45 degrees, 60 degrees, 80 degrees, 90 degrees, 120 degrees, 135 degrees, and 160 degrees. By employing more than one specifically curved edge, the light may be rotated to a wide range of angles. In one embodiment, the light within the coupling lightguide is redirected in a first direction (+theta direction) by a first edge profile and rotated in a section direction (+theta 2) by a second edge profile. In another embodiment, the light within the coupling lightguide is redirected from a first direction to a second direction by a first edge profile and rotated back toward the first direction by a second edge profile region further along the coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the light turning edges of the coupling lightguide are disposed in one or more regions including, without limitation, near the light source, near the light input surface of the coupling lightguides, near the light mixing region, near the lightguide region, between the light input surface of the coupling lightguides, near the light mixing region, near the region between the coupling lightguides and the lightguide region, and near the lightguide region.
  • In one embodiment, one lateral edge near the light input surface of the coupling lightguide has a light turning profile and the opposite lateral edge has a light collimating profile. In another embodiment, one lateral edge near the light input surface of the coupling lightguide has a light collimating profile followed by a light turning profile (in the direction of light propagate away from the light input surface within the coupling lightguide).
  • In one embodiment, two arrays of stacked coupling lightguides are disposed to receive light from a light source and rotate the optical axis of the light into two different directions. In another embodiment, a plurality of coupling lightguides with light turning edges may be folded and stacked along an edge of the lightguide region such that light from a light source oriented toward the lightguide region enters the stack of folded coupling lightguides, the light turning edges redirect the optical axis of the light to a first direction substantially parallel to the edge and the folds in the stacked coupling lightguides redirect the light to a direction substantially toward the lightguide region. In this embodiment, a second array of stacked, folded coupling lightguides can be stacked above or below (or interleaved with) the first array of stacked, folded coupling lightguides along the same edge of the lightguide region such that light from the same light source oriented toward the lightguide region enters the second array of stacked, folded coupling lightguides, the light turning edges of the second array of stack folded coupling lightguides redirect the optical axis of the light to a second direction substantially parallel to the edge (and opposite the first direction) and the folds in the stacked coupling lightguides redirect the light to a direction substantially toward the lightguide region, in another embodiment, the coupling lightguides from two different arrays along an edge of a lightguide region may be alternately stacked upon each other. The stacking arrangement may be predetermined, random, or a variation thereof. In another embodiment, a first stack of folded coupling lightguides from one side of a non-folded coupling lightguide are disposed adjacent one surface of the non-folded coupling lightguide and a second stack of folded coupling lightguides from the other side of the non-folded coupling lightguide are disposed adjacent the opposite surface of the non-folded coupling lightguide. In this embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide may be aligned to receive the central (higher flux) region of the light from the light source when there are equal numbers of coupling lightguides on the top surface and the bottom surface of the non-folded coupling lightguide. In this embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide may have a higher transmission (less light loss) since there are no folds or bends, thus more light reaches the lightguide region.
  • In another embodiment, the light turning edges of one or more coupling lightguides redirects light from two or more light sources with first optical axis angles to light having a second optical axis angles different than the first optical axis angles. In a further embodiment, the light turning edges of one or more coupling lightguides redirects a first portion of light from a light source with a first optical axis angle to a portion of light having second optical axis angle different than the first optical axis angle. In another embodiment, the light turning edges of one or more coupling lightguides redirects light from a first light source with a first optical axis angle to light having a second optical axis angle different from the first optical axis angle and light from a second light source with a third optical axis angle to light having a fourth optical axis angle different from the third optical axis angle.
  • In one embodiment, the light turning profile of one or more edges of a coupling lightguide has a curved shape when viewed substantially perpendicular to the film. In another embodiment, the curved shape has one or more conic, circular arc, parabolic, hyperbolic, geometric, parametric, or other algebraic curve regions. In another embodiment, the shape of the curve is designed to provide improved transmission through the coupling lightguide by minimizing bend loss (increased reflection) for a particular light input profile to the coupling lightguide, light input surface, light profile modifications before the curve (such as collimating edges for example), refractive indexes for the wavelengths of interest for the coupling lightguide material, surface finish of the edge, and coating or cladding type at the curve edge (low refractive index material, air, or metallized for example). In one embodiment, the light lost from the light turning profile of one or more edge regions of the coupling lightguide is less than one of the following: 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, and 5%.
  • Vertical Light Turning Edges
  • In one embodiment, the vertical edges of the coupling lightguides (the edges tangential to the larger film surface) or the core regions of the coupling lightguides have a non-perpendicular cross-sectional profile that rotates the optical axis of a portion of incident light. In one embodiment, the vertical edges of one or more coupling lightguides or core regions of the coupling lightguides comprise a curved edge. In another embodiment, the vertical edges of one or more coupling lightguides or core regions comprise an angled edge wherein the angle to the surface normal of the coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, 40 degrees, 50 degrees and 60 degrees. In one embodiment, the use of vertical light turning edges of the core regions or coupling lightguides allows light to enter into the coupling lightguides from the coupling lightguide film surface where it is typically easier to obtain an optical finish as it can be the optically smooth surface of a film. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides (or core regions of the coupling lightguides) are brought in contact and the vertical edges are cut at an angle to the surface normal. In one embodiment, the angled cut creates a smooth, continuous, angled vertical light turning edge on the edges of the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the angled, curved, or combination thereof vertical light turning edges are obtained by one or more of the following: laser cutting, polishing, grinding, die cutting, blade cutting or slicing, and hot blade cutting or slicing. In one embodiment, the vertical light turning edges are formed when the coupling lightguides are cut into the lightguide film and the coupling lightguides are aligned to form a vertical light turning edge.
  • In another embodiment, the light input surface of the coupling lightguides is the surface of one or more coupling lightguides and the surface comprises one or more surface relief profiles (such as an embossed Fresnel lens, microlens array, or prismatic structures) that turns, collimates or redirects a portion of the light from the light source. In a further embodiment, a light collimating element, light turning optical element, or light coupling optical element is disposed between the light source and the light input film surface of the coupling lightguide (non-edge surface). In one embodiment, the light input film surface is the surface of the cladding region or the core region of the coupling lightguide. In a further embodiment, the light collimating optical element, light turning optical element, or light coupling optical element is optically coupled to the core region, cladding region, or intermediate light transmitting region between the optical element and the coupling lightguide.
  • Vertical Light Collimating Edges
  • In one embodiment, the vertical edges of the coupling lightguide (the edges tangential to the larger film surface) or the core regions of the coupling lightguides have a non-perpendicular cross-sectional profile that collimate a portion of incident light. In one embodiment, the vertical edges of one or more coupling lightguides or core regions of the coupling lightguides comprise a curved edge that collimates a portion of incident light. In another embodiment, the vertical edges of one or more coupling lightguides or core regions comprise an angled edge wherein the angle to the surface normal of the coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, 40 degrees, 50 degrees and 60 degrees.
  • Non-Folded Coupling Lightguide
  • In a further embodiment, the film-based lightguide comprises a non-folded coupling lightguide disposed to receive light from the light input surface and direct light toward the lightguide region without turning the light. In one embodiment, the non-folded lightguide is used in conjunction with one or more light turning optical elements, light coupling optical elements, coupling lightguides with light turning edges, or coupling lightguides with collimating edges. For example, a light turning optical element may be disposed above or below a non-folded coupling lightguide such that a first portion of light from a light source substantially maintains the direction of its optical axis while passing through the non-folded coupling lightguide and the light from the source received by the light turning optical element is turned to enter into a stacked array of coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the stacked array of coupling lightguides comprises folded coupling lightguides and a non-folded coupling lightguide.
  • In another embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide is disposed near an edge of the lightguide. In one embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide is disposed in the middle region of the edge of the lightguide region. In a further embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide is disposed along a side of the lightguide region at a region between the lateral sides of the lightguide region. In one embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide is disposed at various regions along one edge of a lightguide region wherein a plurality of light input couplers are used to direct light into the side of a lightguide region.
  • In another embodiment, the folded coupling lightguides have light collimating edges, substantially linear edges, or light turning edges. In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: the array of folded coupling lightguides, light turning optical element, light collimating optical element, and light source are physically coupled to the non-folded coupling lightguide. In another embodiment, folded coupling lightguides are physically coupled to each other and to the non-folded coupling lightguide by a pressure sensitive adhesive cladding layer and the thickness of the unconstrained lightguide film comprising the light emitting region and the array of coupling lightguides is less than one of the following: 1.2 times, 1.5 times, 2 times, and 3 times the thickness of the array of coupling lightguides. By bonding the folded coupling lightguides only to themselves, the coupling lightguides (when un-constrained) typically bend upward and increase the thickness of the array due to the folded coupling lightguides not being physically coupled to a fixed or relatively constrained region. By physically coupling the folded coupling lightguides to a non-folded coupling lightguide, the array of coupling lightguides is physically coupled to a separate region of the film which increases the stability and thus reduces the ability of the elastic energy stored from the bend to be released.
  • In one embodiment, the non-folded coupling lightguide comprises one or more of the following: light collimating edges, light turning edges, angled linear edges, and curved light redirecting edges. The non-folded coupling lightguide or the folded coupling lightguides may comprise curved regions near bend regions, turning regions, or collimating regions such that stress (such as resulting from torsional or lateral bending) does not focus at a sharp corner and increase the likelihood of fracture. In another embodiment, curved regions are disposed where the coupling lightguides join with the lightguide region or light mixing region of the film-based lightguide.
  • In another embodiment, at least one selected from the group: non-folded coupling lightguide, folding coupling lightguide, light collimating element, light turning optical element, light redirecting optical element, light coupling optical element, light mixing region, lightguide region, and cladding region of one or more elements is physically coupled to the relative position maintaining element. By physically coupling the coupling lightguides directly or indirectly to the relative position maintaining element, the elastic energy stored from the bend in the coupling lightguides held within the coupling lightguides and the combined thickness of the unconstrained coupling lightguides (unconstrained by an external housing for example) is reduced.
  • Interior Light Directing Edge
  • In one embodiment, the interior region of one or more coupling lightguides comprises an interior light directing edge. The interior light redirecting edge may be formed by cutting or otherwise removing an interior region of the coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the interior light directed edge redirects a first portion of light within the coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the interior light redirecting edges provide an additional level of control for directing the light within the coupling lightguides and can provide light flux redistribution within the coupling lightguide and within the lightguide region to achieve a predetermined light output pattern (such as higher uniformity or higher flux output in a specific region).
  • Cavity Region within the Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, one or more coupling lightguides or core regions of coupling lightguides comprises at least one cavity. In another embodiment, the cavity is disposed to receive the light source and the vertical edges of the core regions of the coupling lightguides are vertical light collimating optical edges. In one embodiment, a higher flux of light is coupled within the coupling lightguides with a cavity in at least one coupling lightguide than is coupled into the coupling lightguides without the cavity. This may be evaluated, for example, by measuring the light flux out of the coupling lightguides (when cut) or out of the light emitting device with an integrating sphere before and after filling the cavity with a high transmittance (>90% transmittance) light transmitting material (with the light source disposed adjacent the corresponding surface of the material) that is index-matched with the core region. In another embodiment, the cavity region provides registration or alignment of the coupling lightguides with the light source and increased light flux coupling into the coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, an array of coupling lightguides with vertical light collimating edges and a cavity alleviates the need for a light collimating optical element.
  • Coupling Lightguides Comprising Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide comprises a plurality of coupling lightguides. For example, a coupling lightguide may be further cut to comprise a plurality of coupling lightguides that connect to the edge of the coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, a film of thickness T comprises a first array of N number of coupling lightguides, each comprising a sub-array of M number of coupling lightguides. In this embodiment, the first array of coupling lightguides is folded in a first direction such that the coupling lightguides are aligned and stacked, and the sub-array of coupling lightguides is folded in a second direction such that the coupling lightguides are aligned and stacked. In this embodiment, the light input edge surface comprising the sub-array of coupling lightguides has a width the same as each of the more narrow coupling lightguides and the light input surface has a height, H, defined by H=T×N×M. This can, for example, allow for the use of a thinner lightguide film to be used with a light source with a much larger dimension of the light output surface. In one embodiment, thin film-based lightguides are utilized, for example, when the film-based lightguide is the illuminating element of a frontlight disposed above a touchscreen in a reflective display. A thin lightguide in this embodiment provides a more accurate, and responsive touchscreen (such as with capacitive touchscreens for example) when the user touches the lightguide film. Alternatively, a light source with a larger dimension of the light output surface may be used for a specific lightguide film thickness.
  • Another advantage of using coupling lightguides comprising a plurality of coupling lightguides is that the light source can be disposed within the region between the side edges of the lightguide region and thus not extend beyond an edge of the display or light emitting region when the light source and light input coupler are folded behind the light emitting surface, for example.
  • Number of Coupling Lightguides in a Light Input Coupler
  • In one embodiment, the total number of coupling lightguides, NC, in a direction parallel to the light entrance edge of the lightguide region or lightguide receiving light from the coupling lightguide is NC=MF*WLES/w, where WLES is the total width of the light emitting surface in the direction parallel to the light entrance edge of the lightguide region or lightguide receiving light from the coupling lightguide, w is the average width of the coupling lightguides, and MF is the magnification factor. In one embodiment, the magnification factor is one selected from the group: 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 0.7-1.3, 0.8-1.2, and 0.9-1.1. In another embodiment, the number of coupling lightguides in a light input coupler or the total number of coupling lightguides in the light emitting device is selected from the group: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 20, 30, 50, 70, 80, 90, 100, 2-50, 3-50, 4-50, 2-500, 4-500, greater than 10, greater than 20, greater than 30, greater than 40, greater than 50, greater than 60, greater than 70, greater than 80, greater than 90, greater than 100, greater than 120, greater than 140, greater than 200, greater than 300, greater than 400, greater than 500.
  • Coupling Lightguides Directed into More than One Light Input Surface
  • In a further embodiment, the coupling lightguides collectively do not couple light into the light mixing region, lightguide, or light mixing region in a contiguous manner. For example, every other coupling lightguide may be cut out from the film-based lightguide while still providing strips or coupling lightguides along one or more edges, but not continuously coupling light into the lightguide regions. By using fewer lightguides, the collection of light input edges may be reduced in size. This reduction in size, for example, can be used to combine multiple sets of coupling lightguides optically coupled to different regions of the same lightguide or a different lightguide, better match the light input surface size to the light source size, use a smaller light source, or use a thicker lightguide film with a particular light source where the dimension of the set of contiguous coupling lightguides in the thickness direction would be one selected from the group: 10%, 20%, 40%, 50%, and 100% greater than light emitting surface of the light source in the thickness direction when disposed to couple light into the light input surface.
  • In a further embodiment, coupling lightguides from a first region of a lightguide have light input edges collected into two or more light input surfaces. For example, the odd number coupling lightguides may be directed to a first white light source and the even number coupling lightguides may be coupled to a red, green, and blue light source. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides from a first region of a lightguide are coupled to a plurality of white light sources to reduce visibility of color variations from the light source. For example, the even number coupling lightguides may couple light from a white light source with a first color temperature and the odd number coupling lightguides may couple light from a white light source with a second color temperature higher than the first such that the color non-uniformity, Δu′v′, along a direction parallel to an edge of the lightguide region along the light emitting surface is less than one selected from the group: 0.2, 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, and 0.004.
  • Similarly, three or more light input surfaces may also be used to couple light from 1, 2, 3 or more light sources. For example, every alternating first, second, and third coupling lightguide from a first region of a lightguide are directed to a first, second, and third light source of the same or different colors.
  • In a further embodiment, coupling lightguides from a first region of a lightguide have light input edges collected into two or more light input surfaces disposed to couple light into the lightguide for different modes of operation. For example, the first light input surface may be coupled to at least one light source suitable for daylight compatible output and the second light input surface may be coupled to at least one light source for NVIS compatible light output.
  • The order of the coupling lightguides directed to more than one light input surface do not need to be alternating and may be of any predetermined or random configuration. For example, the coupling lightguides from the top and bottom region of the lightguide may be directed to a different light input surface than the middle region. In a further embodiment, the coupling lightguides from a region of the lightguide are disposed together into a plurality of light input surfaces, each comprising more than one light input edge, arranged in an array, disposed to couple light from a collection of light sources, disposed within the same housing, disposed such that the light input surfaces are disposed adjacent each other, disposed in an order transposed to receive light from a collection of light sources, disposed in a non-contiguous arrangement wherein neighboring light input surfaces do not couple light into neighboring regions of the lightguide, lightguide region, or light mixing region.
  • In a further embodiment, a plurality of sets of coupling lightguides are arranged to provide a plurality of sets of light input surface along the same side, edge, the back, the front or within the same housing region of the light emitting device wherein the plurality of light input surfaces are disposed to receive light from one or a plurality of LEDs.
  • Order of Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are disposed together at a light input edge forming a light input surface such that the order of the strips in a first direction is the order of the coupling lightguides as they direct light into the lightguide or lightguide region. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides are interleaved such that the order of the strips in a first direction is not the same as the order of the coupling lightguides as they direct light into the lightguide or lightguide region. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are interleaved such that at least one coupling lightguide receiving light from a first light source of a first color is disposed between two coupling lightguides at a region near the lightguide region or light mixing region that receive light from a second light source with a second color different from the color of the first light source. In one embodiment, the color non-uniformity, Δu′v′, along a direction parallel to the edge of the lightguide region along the light emitting surface is less than one selected from the group: 0.2, 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, and 0.004. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides are interleaved such that at least one pair of coupling lightguides adjacent to each other at the output region of the light input coupler near the light mixing region, lightguide, or lightguide region, are not adjacent to each other near the input surface of the light input coupler. In one embodiment, the interleaved coupling lightguides are arranged such that the non-uniform angular output profile is made more uniform at the output of the light input coupler by distributing the coupling lightguides such that output from the light input coupler does not spatially replicate the angular non-uniformity of the light source. For example, the strips of a light input coupler could alternate among four different regions of the lightguide region as they are combined at the light input surface so that the middle region would not have very high luminance light emitting surface region that corresponds to the typically high intensity from a light source at 0 degrees or along its optical axis.
  • In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides are interleaved such that at least one pair of coupling lightguides adjacent to each other near the light mixing region, lightguide, or lightguide region, do not receive light from at least one of the same light source, the same light input coupler, and the same mixing region. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides are interleaved such that at least one pair of coupling lightguides adjacent to each other near a light input surface do not couple light to at least one of the same light input coupler, the same light mixing region, the same lightguide, the same lightguide region, the same film, the same light output surface. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides are interleaved at the light input surface in a two-dimensional arrangement such that at least two neighboring coupling lightguides in a vertical, horizontal or other direction at the input surface do not couple light to a neighboring region of at least one selected from the group: the same light input coupler, the same light mixing region, the same lightguide, the same lightguide region, the same film, and the same light output surface.
  • In a further embodiment, coupling lightguides optically coupled to the lightguide region, light mixing region, or light emitting region near a first input region are arranged together in a holder disposed substantially along or near a second edge region which is disposed along an edge direction greater than one selected from the group: 30 degrees, 40 degrees, 50 degrees, 60 degrees, 70 degrees, 80 degrees and 85 degrees to first edge region. For example, light input couplers may couple light from a first light source and coupling lightguide holder disposed along the bottom edge of a liquid crystal display and direct the light into the region of the lightguide disposed along a side of the display oriented about 90 degrees to the bottom edge of the display. The coupling lightguides may direct light from a light source disposed along the top, bottom, or both into one or more sides of a display such that the light is substantially propagating parallel to the bottom and top edges within the lightguide region.
  • Coupling Lightguides Bonded to the Surface of a Lightguide Region
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are not segmented (or cut) regions of the same film which comprises the lightguide or lightguide region. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are formed and physically or optically attached to the lightguide, light mixing region, or lightguide region using at least one selected from the group: optical adhesive, bonding method (solvent welding, thermally bonding, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, hot gas welding, freehand welding, speed tip welding, extrusion welding, contact welding, hot plate welding, high frequency welding, injection welding, friction welding, spin welding, welding rod), and adhesive or joining techniques suitable for polymers. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are formed and optically coupled to the lightguide, mixing region, or lightguide region such that a significant portion of the light from the coupling lightguides is transferred into a waveguide condition within the mixing region, lightguide region, or lightguide. The coupling lightguide may be attached to the edge or a surface of the light mixing region, lightguide region, or lightguide. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are disposed within a first film wherein a second film comprising a lightguide region is extruded onto a region of the first film such that the coupling lightguides are optically coupled to the lightguide region. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides are tapered in a region optically coupled to the lightguide. By separating out the production of the coupling lightguides with the production of the lightguide region, materials with different properties may be used for each region such as materials with different optical transmission properties, flexural modulus of elasticity, impact strength (Notched Izod), flexural rigidity, impact resistance, mechanical properties, physical properties, and other optical properties. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides comprise a material with a flexural modulus less than 2 gigapascals and the lightguide or lightguide region comprises a material with a flexural modulus greater than 2 gigapascals measured according to ASTM D790. In one embodiment, the lightguide is a relatively stiff polycarbonate material and the coupling lightguides comprise a flexible elastomer or polyethylene. In another embodiment, the lightguide is an acrylic material and the coupling lightguides comprise a flexible fluoropolymer, elastomer or polyethylene. In one embodiment, the average thickness of the lightguide region or lightguide is more than 0.1 mm thicker than the average thickness of at least one coupling lightguide.
  • In one embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide is optically coupled to at least one selected from the group: surface, edge, or interior region, of an input light coupler, light mixing region, lightguide region, and lightguide. In another embodiment, a film comprising parallel linear cuts along the a direction of a film is bonded to a surface of a film in the extrusion process such that the strips are optically coupled to the lightguide film and the cut regions can be cut in the transverse direction to “free” the strips so that they can be brought together to form a light input surface of a light input coupler.
  • Coupling Lightguides Ending within the Lightguide Region
  • In one embodiment, a film comprising parallel linear cuts along the machine direction of a film is guided between two extrusion layers or coatings such that the ends of the strips are effectively inside the other two layers or regions. In another embodiment, one or more edges of the coupling lightguide are optically couple to a layer or coating (such as an adhesive) within a lightguide to reduce scattering and increase light coupling into the lightguide. This could be done in a single step or in sequential steps. By having strips or coupling lightguides terminate within a lightguide, lightguide region, or light mixing region, there are fewer back reflections from the air-end edge interface as there would be on a simple surface bonding because the edge would effectively be optically coupled into the volume of the light transmitting material forming the light mixing region, lightguide region or lightguide (assuming the material near the edge could flow or deform around the edge or another material is used (such as an adhesive) to promote the optical coupling of the edge and potentially surfaces.
  • Strip or Coupling Lightguide Registration Securing Feature
  • In one embodiment, at least one strip near the central region of a light input coupler is used to align or guide the coupling strips or to connect the coupling lightguides to a lightguide or housing. In a fold-design wherein the coupling lightguides are folded toward the center of the light input coupler, a central strip or lightguide may not be folded to receive light from the light source due to geometrical limitations on the inability to fold the central strip or coupling lightguide. This central strip or coupling lightguide may be used for one selected from the group: aligning the light input coupler or housing to the strips (or lightguide), tightening the fold of the strips or coupling lightguide stack to reduce the volume, registering, securing or locking down the position of the light input coupler housing, provide a lever or arm to pull together components of a folding mechanism which bend or fold the coupling lightguides, coupling lightguides, lightguide or other element relative to one of the aforementioned elements.
  • Tab Region
  • In one embodiment, one or more of the strips or coupling lightguides comprises a tab or tab region that is used to register, align, or secure the location of the strip or coupling lightguide relative to the housing, folder, holder, lightguide, light source, light input coupler, or other element of the light emitting device. In another embodiment, at least one strip or coupling lightguide comprises a pin, hole, cut-out, tab, or other feature useful for registering, aligning, or securing the location of the strip or coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the tab region is disposed at a side of one or more light sources when the light source is disposed to couple light into a coupling lightguide. In a further embodiment, the tab region may be removed, by tearing for example, after the stacking of the coupling lightguides. For example, the coupling lightguides may have an opening or aperture cut within the coupling lightguides that align to form a cavity within which the light emitting region of the light source may be disposed such that the light from the light source is directed into the light input surfaces of the coupling lightguides. After physically constraining the coupling lightguides (by adhering them to each other or to another element or by mechanical clamping, alignment guide or other means for example), all or a portion of the tab region may be removed by tearing without reducing the optical quality of the light input surface disposed to receive light from the light source. In another embodiment, the tab region comprises one or more perforations or cut regions that promote the tearing or removal of the tab region along a predetermined path.
  • In another embodiment, the tab region or region of the coupling lightguides comprising registration or alignment openings or apertures are stacked such that the openings or apertures align onto a registration pin or post disposed on or physically coupled to the light turning optical element, light collimating optical element, light coupling element, light source, light source circuit board, relative position maintaining element, light input coupler housing, or other element of the light input coupler such that the light input surfaces of the coupling lightguides are aligned and disposed to receive light from the element or light source.
  • The tab region may comprise registration openings or apertures on either side of the openings or apertures forming the cavity in coupling lightguide such that registration pins assist in the aligning and relative positioning of the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, one or more coupling lightguides (folded non-folded) comprise low light loss registration openings or apertures in a low light flux region. Low light loss registration openings or apertures in low light flux regions of the coupling lightguides are those wherein less than one of the following: 2%, 5%, 10% and 20% of the light flux from a light source reaches the opening or aperture directly or indirectly within a coupling lightguide. This can be measured by filling the openings or apertures with a black light absorbing material such as a black latex paint and measuring the loss in light output from the light emitting region using an integrating sphere.
  • In another embodiment, the tab regions of the coupling lightguides allow for the light input surface of the stacked array of coupling lightguides to be formed after stacking the coupling lightguides such that an improved optical finish of the light input surface can be obtained. For example, in one embodiment, the array of coupling lightguides is stacked with a tab region extended from the input region of the coupling lightguides. The stacked array is then cut in the tab region (and optionally mechanically, thermally, chemically or otherwise polished) to provide a continuous smooth input surface.
  • Holding the Coupling Lightguide Position Relative to the Light Source or Optical Element
  • In another embodiment, the tab region may be cut to provide a physically constraining mechanism for an optical element or the light source. For example, in one embodiment, the tab region of the coupling lightguides comprises one or more arms or ridges such that when the coupling lightguides are stacked in an array, the arms or ridges form a constraining groove or cavity to substantially maintain the optical element or light source in at least one direction. In another embodiment, the stacked array of coupling lightguides form a cavity that allows an extended ridge of a light collimating optic to be positioned within the cavity such that the light collimating optic substantially maintains its position relative to the coupling lightguides. Various forms of grooves, ridges, interlocking shapes, pins, openings, apertures and other constraining shapes may be used with the optical element (such as the light turning optical element or light collimating optical element) or the light source (or housing of the light source) and the shape cut into the coupling lightguides to constrain the element or light source when placed into the interlocking shape.
  • Extended Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are extended such that the coupling lightguides may be folded in an organized fashion by using a relative position maintaining element. By extending the coupling lightguides, the relative position and order of the coupling lightguides may be maintained during the aligning and stacking process such that the coupling lightguides may be stacked and aligned in an organized fashion. For example, in one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are extended with an inverted shape such that they are mirrored along a first direction. In one embodiment, the folding operation creates two stacked arrays of coupling lightguides which may be used to form two different light emitting devices or two illuminated regions illuminated by the same light source. In another embodiment, a first relative position maintaining element substantially maintains the relative position of the coupling lightguides near a first lightguide region and a second relative position maintaining element substantially maintains the relative position of the extended regions of the coupling lightguides (which may form the coupling lightguides of a second light emitting device or region).
  • Varying Coupling Lightguide Thickness
  • In one embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide or strip varies in the thickness direction along the path of the light propagating through the lightguide. In one embodiment, at least one coupling lightguide or strip varies in the thickness direction substantially perpendicular to the path of the light propagating through the lightguide. In another embodiment, the dimension of at least one coupling lightguide or strip varies in a direction parallel to the optical axis of the light emitting device along the path of the light propagating through the lightguide. In one embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide increases as the light propagates from a light source to the light mixing region, lightguide, or lightguide region. In one embodiment, the thickness of the coupling lightguide decreases as the light propagates from a light source to the light mixing region, lightguide, or lightguide region. In one embodiment, the thickness of a coupling lightguide in a first region divided by the thickness of the coupling lightguide in a second region is greater than one selected from the group: 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 20, 40, 60 and 100.
  • Light Turning Optical Elements or Edges for Light Source Placement
  • In one embodiment, the light turning optical elements or light turning coupling lightguide edges may be used to position the light source on the same side of the lightguide region as the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the light turning optical elements or light turning coupling lightguide edges may be used to position the light source within the extended boundaries of the coupling lightguides such that the light source does not extend past an edge of the lightguide, light emitting region, edges of the display area, lightguide region or bevel. For example, a film-based lightguide with coupling lightguides folded along one edge may have angled edges or a region of the lightguide region not to be directly illuminated from a coupling lightguide in order to position the light source within the region bounded by the edges of the lightguide region. Alternatively, the stack of coupling lightguides along one edge may have light turning edges near the light source ends such that the light source can be disposed with light directed toward the lightguide region. This can allow the light to be turned and directed into the coupling lightguides and when the light source is folded behind the display, the light source does not extend past the outer display edges.
  • Light Mixing Region
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light mixing region disposed in an optical path between the light input coupler and the lightguide region. The light mixing region can provide a region for the light output from individual coupling lightguides to mix together and improve at least one of the spatial luminance uniformity, spatial color uniformity, angular color uniformity, angular luminance uniformity, angular luminous intensity uniformity or any combination thereof within a region of the lightguide or of the surface or output of the light emitting region or light emitting device. In one embodiment, the width of the light mixing region is selected from a range from 0.1 mm (for small displays) to more than 3.048 meters (for large billboards). In one embodiment, the light mixing region is the region disposed along an optical path near the end region of the coupling lightguides whereupon light from two or more coupling lightguides may inter-mix and subsequently propagate to a light emitting region of the lightguide. In one embodiment, the light mixing region is formed from the same component or material as at least one of the lightguide, lightguide region, light input coupler, and coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the light mixing region comprises a material that is different than at least one selected from the group: the lightguide, lightguide region, light input coupler, and coupling lightguides. The light mixing region may be a rectangular, square or other shaped region or it may be a peripheral region surrounding all or a portion of the light emitting region or lightguide region. In one embodiment, the surface area of the light mixing region of a light emitting device is one selected from the group: less than 1%, less than 5%, less than 10%, less than 20%, less than 30%, less than 40%, less than 50%, less than 60%, less than 70%, greater than 20%, greater than 30%, greater than 40% greater than 50%, greater than 60%, greater than 70%, greater than 80%, greater than 90%, 1-10%, 10-20%, 20-50%, 50-70%, 70-90%, 80-95% of the total outer surface area of the light emitting surface or the area of the light emitting surface from which light is emitted.
  • In one embodiment, a film-based lightguide comprises a light mixing region with a lateral dimension longer than a coupling lightguide width and the coupling lightguides do not extend from the entire edge region corresponding to the light emitting region of the lightguide. In one embodiment, the width of the gap along the edge without a coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 1 times, 2 times, 3 times, or 4 times the average width of the neighboring coupling lightguides. In a further embodiment, the width of the gap along the edge without a coupling lightguide is greater than one of the following: 1 times, 2 times, 3 times, or 4 times the lateral width of the light mixing region. For example, in one embodiment, a film-based lightguide comprises coupling lightguides with a width of 2 centimeters disposed along a light mixing region that is 4 centimeters long in the lateral direction (such as can readily be the case if the light mixing region folds behind a reflective display for a film-based frontlight), except in a central region where there is a 2 centimeter gap without a coupling lightguide extension. In this embodiment, the light within the neighboring coupling lightguides may spread into the gap region of the light mixing region not illuminated by a coupling lightguide directly and mix together such that the light in the light emitting area is sufficiently uniform. In a further embodiment, a light mixing region comprises two or more gaps without coupling lightguides extending therefrom. In a further embodiment, a light mixing region comprises alternating gaps between the coupling lightguide extensions along an edge of a film-based lightguide.
  • Cladding Layer
  • In one embodiment, at least one of the light input coupler, coupling lightguide, light mixing region, lightguide region, and lightguide comprises a cladding layer optically coupled to at least one surface. A cladding region, as used herein, is a layer optically coupled to a surface wherein the cladding layer comprises a material with a refractive index, nciad, less than the refractive index of the material, nm, of the surface to which it is optically coupled. In one embodiment, nm-nclad is one selected from the group: 0.001-0.005, 0.001-0.01, 0.001-0.1, 0.001-0.2, 0.001-0.3, 0.001-0.4, 0.01-0.1, 0.1-0.5, 0.1-0.3, 0.2-0.5, greater than 0.01, greater than 0.1, greater than 0.2, and greater than 0.3. In one embodiment, the cladding is one selected from the group: methyl based silicone pressure sensitive adhesive, fluoropolymer material (applied with using coating comprising a fluoropolymer substantially dissolved in a solvent), and a fluoropolymer film. The cladding layer may be incorporated to provide a separation layer between the core or core part of a lightguide region and the outer surface to reduce undesirable out-coupling (for example, frustrated totally internally reflected light by touching the film with an oily finger) from the core or core region of a lightguide. Components or objects such as additional films, layers, objects, fingers, dust etc. that come in contact or optical contact directly with a core or core region of a lightguide may couple light out of the lightguide, absorb light or transfer the totally internally reflected light into a new layer. By adding a cladding layer with a lower refractive index than the core, a portion of the light will totally internally reflect at the core-cladding layer interface. Cladding layers may also be used to provide the benefit of at least one of increased rigidity, increased flexural modulus, increased impact resistance, anti-glare properties, provide an intermediate layer for combining with other layers such as in the case of a cladding functioning as a tie layer or a base or substrate for an anti-reflection coating, a substrate for an optical component such as a polarizer, liquid crystal material, increased scratch resistance, provide additional functionality (such as a low-tack adhesive to bond the lightguide region to another element, a window “cling type” film such as a highly plasticized PVC). The cladding layer may be an adhesive, such as a low refractive index silicone adhesive which is optically coupled to another element of the device, the lightguide, the lightguide region, the light mixing region, the light input coupler, or a combination of one or more of the aforementioned elements or regions. In one embodiment, a cladding layer is optically coupled to a rear polarizer in a backlit liquid crystal display. In another embodiment, the cladding layer is optically coupled to a polarizer or outer surface of a front-lit display such as an electrophoretic display, e-book display, e-reader display, MEMs type display, electronic paper displays such as E-Ink® display by E Ink Corporation, reflective or partially reflective LCD display, cholesteric display, or other display capable of being illuminated from the front. In another embodiment, the cladding layer is an adhesive that bonds the lightguide or lightguide region to a component such as a substrate (glass or polymer), optical element (such as a polarizer, retarder film, diffuser film, brightness enhancement film, protective film (such as a protective polycarbonate film), the light input coupler, coupling lightguides, or other element of the light emitting device. In one embodiment, the cladding layer is separated from the lightguide or lightguide region core layer by at least one additional layer or adhesive.
  • In one embodiment, a region of cladding material is removed or is absent in the region wherein the lightguide layer or lightguide is optically coupled to another region of the lightguide wherein the cladding is removed or absent such that light can couple between the two regions. In one embodiment, the cladding is removed or absent in a region near an edge of a lightguide, lightguide region, strip or region cut from a lightguide region, or coupling lightguide such that light nearing the edge of the lightguide can be redirected by folding or bending the region back onto a region of the lightguide wherein the cladding has been removed where the regions are optically coupled together. In another embodiment, the cladding is removed or absent in the region disposed between the lightguide regions of two coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from a light source or near a light input surface. By removing or not applying or disposing a cladding in the region between the input ends of two or more coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from a light source, light is not directly coupled into the cladding region edge.
  • Cladding Location
  • In one embodiment, the cladding region is optically coupled to at least one selected from the group: lightguide, lightguide region, light mixing region, one surface of the lightguide, two surfaces of the lightguide, light input coupler, coupling lightguides, and outer surface of the film. In another embodiment, the cladding is disposed in optical contact with the lightguide, lightguide region, or layer or layers optically coupled to the lightguide and the cladding material is not disposed on one or more coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides do not comprise a cladding layer between the core regions in the region near the light input surface or light source. In another embodiment, the core regions may be pressed or held together and the edges may be cut and/or polished after stacking or assembly to form a light input surface or a light turning edge that is flat, curved, or a combination thereof. In another embodiment, the cladding layer is a pressure sensitive adhesive and the release liner for the pressure sensitive adhesive is selectively removed in the region of one or more coupling lightguides that are stacked or aligned together into an array such that the cladding helps maintain the relative position of the coupling lightguides relative to each other. In another embodiment, the protective liner is removed from the inner cladding regions of the coupling lightguides and is left on one or both outer surfaces of the outer coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the protective liner of at least one outer surface of the outer coupling lightguides is removed such that the stack of coupling lightguides may be bonded to one of the following: a circuit board, a non-folded coupling lightguide, a light collimating optical element, a light turning optical element, a light coupling optical element, a flexible connector or substrate for a display or touchscreen, a second array of stacked coupling lightguides, a light input coupler housing, a light emitting device housing, a thermal transfer element, a heat sink, a light source, an alignment guide, a registration guide or component comprising a window for the light input surface, and any suitable element disposed on and/or physically coupled to an element of the light input surface or light emitting device. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides do not comprise a cladding region on either planar side and optical loss at the bends or folds in the coupling lightguides is reduced. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides do not comprise a cladding region on either planar side and the light input surface input coupling efficiency is increased due to the light input surface area having a higher concentration of lightguide received surface relative to a lightguide with at least one cladding. In a further embodiment, the light emitting region has at least one cladding region or layer and the percentage of the area of the light input surface of the coupling lightguides disposed to transmit light into the lightguide portion of the coupling lightguides is greater than one of the following: 70%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 98% and 99%. The cladding may be on one side only of the lightguide or the light emitting device could be designed to be optically coupled to a material with a refractive index lower than the lightguide, such as in the case with a plasticized PVC film (n=1.53) (or other low-tack material) temporarily adhered to a glass window (n=1.51).
  • In one embodiment, the cladding on at least one surface of the lightguide is applied (such as coated or co-extruded) and the cladding on the coupling lightguides is subsequently removed. In a further embodiment, the cladding applied on the surface of the lightguide (or the lightguide is applied onto the surface of the cladding) such that the regions corresponding to the coupling lightguides do not have a cladding. For example, the cladding material could be extruded or coated onto a lightguide film in a central region wherein the outer sides of the film will comprise coupling lightguides. Similarly, the cladding may be absent on the coupling lightguides in the region disposed in close proximity to one or more light sources or the light input surface.
  • In one embodiment, two or more core regions of the coupling lightguides do not comprise a cladding region between the core regions in a region of the coupling lightguide disposed within a distance selected from the group: 1 millimeter, 2 millimeters, 4 millimeters, and 8 millimeters from the light input surface edge of the coupling lightguides. In a further embodiment, two or more core regions of the coupling lightguides do not comprise a cladding region between the core regions in a region of the coupling lightguide disposed within a distance selected from the group: 10%, 20%, 50%, 100%, 200%, and 300% of the combined thicknesses of the cores of the coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from the light source from the light input surface edge of the coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides in the region proximate the light input surface do not comprise cladding between the core regions (but may contain cladding on the outer surfaces of the collection of coupling lightguides) and the coupling lightguides are optically coupled together with an index-matching adhesive or material or the coupling lightguides are optically bonded, fused, or thermo-mechanically welded together by applying heat and pressure. In a further embodiment, a light source is disposed at a distance to the light input surface of the coupling lightguides less than one selected from the group: 0.5 millimeter, 1 millimeter, 2 millimeters, 4 millimeters, and 6 millimeters and the dimension of the light input surface in the first direction parallel to the thickness direction of the coupling lightguides is greater than one selected from the group: 100%, 110%, 120%, 130%, 150%, 180%, and 200% the dimension of the light emitting surface of the light source in the first direction. In another embodiment, disposing an index-matching material between the core regions of the coupling lightguides or optically coupling or boding the coupling lightguides together in the region proximate the light source optically couples at least one selected from the group: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, and 50% more light into the coupling lightguides than would be coupled into the coupling lightguides with the cladding regions extending substantially to the light input edge of the coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the index-matching adhesive or material has a refractive index difference from the core region less than one selected from the group: 0.1. 0.08, 0.05, and 0.02. In another embodiment, the index-matching adhesive or material has a refractive index greater by less than one selected from the group: 0.1, 0.08, 0.05, and 0.02 the refractive index of the core region. In a further embodiment, a cladding region is disposed between a first set of core regions of coupling lightguides for a second set of coupling lightguides an index-matching region is disposed between the core regions of the coupling lightguides or they are fused together. In a further embodiment, the coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from the geometric center of the light emitting area of the light source within a first angle of the optical axis of the light source have cladding regions disposed between the core regions, and the core regions at angles larger than the first angle have index-matching regions disposed between the core regions of the coupling lightguides or they are fused together. In one embodiment, the first angle is selected from the group: 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, 40 degrees, 50 degrees, and 60 degrees. In the aforementioned embodiments, the cladding region may be a low refractive index material or air. In a further embodiment, the total thickness of the coupling lightguides in the region disposed to receive light from a light source to be coupled into the coupling lightguides is less than n times the thickness of the lightguide region where n is the number of coupling lightguides. In a further embodiment, the total thickness of the coupling lightguides in the region disposed to receive light from a light source to be coupled into the coupling lightguides is substantially equal to n times the thickness of the lightguide layer within the lightguide region.
  • Cladding Layer Materials
  • In one embodiment, the cladding layer comprises an adhesive such as a silicone-based adhesive, acrylate-based adhesive, epoxy, radiation curable adhesive. UV curable adhesive, or other light transmitting adhesive. The cladding layer material may comprise light scattering domains and may scatter light anisotropically or isotropically. In one embodiment, the cladding layer is an adhesive such as those described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,727,313. In another embodiment, the cladding material comprises domains less than 200 nm in size with a low refractive index such as those described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,773,801. Other low refractive index materials, fluoropolymer materials, polymers and adhesives may be used such as those disclosed U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,887,334 and 6,827,886 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/795,534.
  • Fluoropolymer materials may be used as a low refractive index cladding material and may be broadly categorized into one of two basic classes. A first class includes those amorphous fluoropolymers comprising interpolymerized units derived from vinylidene fluoride (VDF) and hexafluoropropylene (HFP) and optionally tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) monomers. Examples of such are commercially available from 3M Company as Dyneon™ Fluoroelastomer FC 2145 and FT 2430. Additional amorphous fluoropolymers that can be used in embodiments are, for example, VDF-chlorotrifluoroethylene copolymers. One such VDF-chlorotrifluoroethylene copolymer is commercially known as Kel-F™ 3700, available from 3M Company. As used herein, amorphous fluoropolymers are materials that contain essentially no crystallinity or possess no significant melting point as determined for example by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). For the purpose of this discussion, a copolymer is defined as a polymeric material resulting from the simultaneous polymerization of two or more dissimilar monomers and a homopolymer is a polymeric material resulting from the polymerization of a single monomer.
  • The second significant class of fluoropolymers useful in an embodiment are those homo and copolymers based on fluorinated monomers such as TFE or VDF which do contain a crystalline melting point such as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF, available commercially from 3M company as Dyneon™ PVDF, or more preferable thermoplastic copolymers of TEE such as those based on the crystalline microstructure of TFE-HFP-VDE Examples of such polymers are those available from 3M under the trade name Dyneon™ Fluoroplastics THV™ 200.
  • A general description and preparation of these classes of fluoropolymers can be found in Encyclopedia Chemical Technology, Fluorocarbon Elastomers, Kirk-Othmer (1993), or in Modern Fluoropolymers, J. Scheirs Ed, (1997), J Wiley Science, Chapters 2, 13, and 32. (ISBN 0-471-97055-7).
  • In one embodiment, the fluoropolymers are copolymers formed front the constituent monomers known as tetrafluoroethylene (“TFE”), hexafluoropropylene (“HFP”), and vinylidene fluoride (“VdF,” “VF2,”). The monomer structures for these constituents are shown below as (1), (2) and (3):

  • TFE: CF2=CF2  (1)

  • VDF: CH2=CF2  (2)

  • HFP: CF2=CF—CF3  (3)
  • In one embodiment, the preferred fluoropolymer consists of at least two of the constituent monomers (HFP and VDF), and more preferably all three of the constituents monomers in varying molar amounts. Additional monomers not depicted above but may also be useful in an embodiment include perfluorovinyl ether monomers of the general structure: CF 2=CF OR f, wherein R f can be a branched or linear perfluoroalkyl radical of 1-8 carbons and can itself contain additional heteroatoms such as oxygen. Specific examples are perfluoromethyl vinyl ether, perfluoropropyl vinyl ether, and perfluoro(3-methoxy-propyl) vinyl ether. Additional monomer examples are found in WO00/12754 to Worm, assigned to 3M, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,214,100 to Carlson. Other fluoropolymer materials may be used such as those disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/026,614.
  • In one embodiment, the cladding material is birefringent and the refractive index in at least a first direction is less than refractive index of the lightguide region, lightguide core, or material to which it is optically coupled.
  • Collimated light propagating through a material may be reduced in intensity after passing through the material due to scattering (scattering loss coefficient), absorption (absorption coefficient), or a combination of scattering and absorption (attenuation coefficient). In one embodiment, the cladding comprises a material with an average absorption coefficient for collimated light less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the visible wavelength spectrum from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. In another embodiment, the cladding comprises a material with an average scattering loss coefficient for collimated light less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the visible wavelength spectrum from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. In another embodiment, the cladding comprises a material with an average attenuation coefficient for collimated light less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the visible wavelength spectrum from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers.
  • In a further embodiment, a lightguide comprises a hard cladding layer that substantially protects a soft core layer (such as a soft silicone or silicone elastomer).
  • In one embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with a Durometer Shore A hardness (JIS) less than 50 and at least one cladding layer with a Durometer Shore A hardness (BS) greater than 50. In one embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus less than 2 MPa and at least one cladding layer with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus greater than 2 MPa at 25 degrees Celsius. In another embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus less than 1.5 MPa and at least one cladding layer with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus greater than 2 MPa at 25 degrees Celsius. In a further embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus less than 1 MPa and at least one cladding layer with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus greater than 2 MPa at 25 degrees Celsius.
  • In one embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus less than 2 MPa and the lightguide film has an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus greater than 2 MPa at 25 degrees Celsius. In another embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus less than 1.5 MPa and the lightguide film has an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus greater than 2 MPa at 25 degrees Celsius. In one embodiment, a lightguide comprises a core material with an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus less than 1 MPa and the lightguide film has an ASTM D638-10 Young's Modulus greater than 2 MPa at 25 degrees Celsius.
  • Reflective Elements
  • In one embodiment, at least one of the light source, light input surface, light input coupler, coupling lightguide, lightguide region, and lightguide comprises a reflective element or surface optically coupled to it, disposed adjacent to it, or disposed to receive light from it wherein the reflective region is one selected from the group: specularly reflecting region, diffusely reflecting region, metallic coating on a region (such as an ITO coating, Aluminized PET, Silver coating, etc.), multi-layer reflector dichroic reflector, multi-layer polymeric reflector, giant birefringent optical films, enhanced specular reflector films, reflective ink or particles within a coating or layer, and a white reflective film comprising at least one selected from the group: titanium dioxide, barium sulfate, and voids. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lightguide wherein at least one light reflecting material selected from the group: a light recycling element, a specularly reflective tape with a diffuse reflectance (specular component included) greater than 70%, a retroreflective film (such as a corner cube film or glass bead based retroreflective film), white reflecting film, and aluminum housing is disposed near or optically coupled at least one edge region of the lightguide disposed to receive light from the lightguide and redirect a first portion of light back into the lightguide. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lightguide wherein at least one light absorbing material selected from the group: a light absorbing tape with a diffuse reflectance (specular component included) less than 50%, a region comprising a light absorbing dye or pigment, a region comprising carbon black particles, a region comprising light absorbing ink, paint, films or surfaces, and a black material is disposed near or optically coupled at least one edge region of the lightguide disposed to receive light from the lightguide and redirect a first portion of light back into the lightguide. In a further embodiment, a light reflecting material and a light absorbing material of the aforementioned types is disposed near or optically coupled at least one edge region of the lightguide disposed to receive light from the lightguide and redirect a first portion of light back into the lightguide and absorb a second portion of incident light. In one embodiment, the light reflecting or light absorbing material is in the form of a line of ink or tape adhered onto the surface of the lightguide film. In one embodiment, the light reflecting material is a specularly reflecting tape adhered to the top surface, edge, and bottom surface of the lightguide near the edge of the lightguide. In another embodiment, the light absorbing material is a light absorbing tape adhered to the top surface, edge, and bottom surface of the lightguide near the edge of the lightguide. In another embodiment, the light absorbing material is a light absorbing ink or paint (such as a black acrylic based paint) adhered to at least one selected from the group: edge, top surface near the edge, and bottom surface near the edge of the lightguide
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device is a backlight illuminating a display or other object to be illuminated and the light emitting region, lightguide, or lightguide region is disposed between a reflective surface or element and the object to be illuminated. In another embodiment, the reflective element is a voided white PET film such as TETORON® film UX Series from THIN (Japan). In one embodiment, the reflective element or surface has a diffuse reflectance d/8 with the specular component included (DR-SCI) measured with a Minolta CM508D spectrometer greater than one selected from the group: 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 95%. In another embodiment, the reflective element or surface has a diffuse reflectance d/8 with the specular component excluded (DR-SCE) measured with a Minolta CM508D spectrometer greater than one selected from the group: 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 95%. In another embodiment, the reflective element or surface has a specular reflectance greater than one selected from the group: 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 95%. The specular reflectance, as defined herein, is the percentage of light reflected from a surface illuminated by a 532 nanometer laser that is within a 10 degree (full angle) cone centered about the optical axis of the reflected light. This can be measured by using an integrating sphere wherein the aperture opening for the integrating sphere is positioned at a distance from the point of reflection such that the angular extent of the captured light is 10 degrees full angle. The percent reflection is measured against a reflectance standard with a known specular reflectance, a reflectance standard, film, or object that have extremely low levels of scattering.
  • Light Reflecting Optical Element is Also a Second Element
  • In addition to reflecting incident light, in one embodiment, the light reflecting element is also at least one second element selected from the group: light blocking element, low contact area covering element, housing element, light collimating optical element, light turning optical element and thermal transfer element. In another embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is a second element within a region of the light reflecting optical element. In a further embodiment, the light reflecting optical element comprises a bend region, tab region, hole region, layer region, or extended region that is, or forms a component thereof, a second element. For example, a diffuse light reflecting element comprising a voided PET diffuse reflecting film may be disposed adjacent the lightguide region to provide diffuse reflection and the film may further comprise a specular reflecting metallized coating on an extended region of the film that is bent and functions to collimate incident light from the light source. In another embodiment, the second element or second region of the light reflecting optical element is contiguous with one or more regions of the light reflecting optical element. In a further embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is a region, coating, element or layer physically coupled to a second element. In another embodiment, the second element is a region, coating, element or layer physically coupled to a light reflecting optical element. For example, in one embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is a metalized PET film adhered to the back of a transparent, low contact area film comprising polyurethane and a surface relief profile wherein the film combination extends from beneath the lightguide region to wrap around one or more coupling lightguides. In a further embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is physically and/or optically coupled to the film-based lightguide and is cut during the same cutting process that generates the coupling lightguides and the light reflecting optical element is cut into regions that are angled, curved or subsequently angled or curved to form a light collimating optical element or a light turning optical element. The size, shape, quantity, orientation, material and location of the tab regions, light reflecting regions or other regions of the light reflecting optical element may vary as needed to provide optical (efficiency, light collimation, light redirection, etc.), mechanical (rigidity, connection with other elements, alignment, ease of manufacture etc.), or system (reduced volume, increased efficiency, additional functionality such as color mixing) benefits such as is known in the art of optical elements, displays, light fixtures, etc. For example, the tab regions of a light reflecting optical element that specularly reflects incident light may comprise a parabolic, polynomial or other geometrical cross-sectional shape such that the angular FWHM intensity, light flux, orientation, uniformity, or light profile is controlled. For example, the curved cross-sectional shape of one or more tab regions may be that of a compound parabolic concentrator. In another embodiment, the light reflecting optical element comprises hole regions, tab regions, adhesive regions or other alignment, physical coupling, optical coupling, or positioning regions that correspond in shape, size, or location to other elements of the light emitting device to facilitate at least one selected from the group: alignment, position, adhesion, physically coupling, or optically coupling with a second element or component of the light emitting device. For example, the light reflecting optical element may be a specularly reflecting or mirror-like metallized PET that is disposed beneath a substantially planar light emitting region and extends into the region near the light source and comprises extended tabs or folding regions that fold and are optically coupled to at least one outer surface of a light collimating element. In this embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is also a component of a light collimating optical element. In another embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is a specularly reflecting metallized PET film that is optically coupled to a non-folded coupling lightguide using a pressure sensitive adhesive and is extended toward the light source such that the extended region is optically coupled to an angled surface of a light collimating optical element that collimates a portion of the light from the light source in the plane perpendicular to the plane comprising the surface of the non-folded coupling lightguide optically coupled to the light reflecting optical element.
  • In one embodiment, the light reflecting element is also a light blocking element wherein the light reflecting element blocks a first portion of light escaping the light input coupler, coupling lightguide, light source, light redirecting optical element, light collimating optical element, light mixing region, lightguide region. In another embodiment, the light reflecting element prevents the visibility of stray light, undesirable light, or a predetermined area of light emitting or redirecting surface from reaching the viewer of a display, sign, or a light emitting device. For example, a metallized specularly reflecting PET film may be disposed to reflect light from one side of the lightguide region back toward the lightguide region and also extend to wrap around the stack of coupling lightguide using the PSA optically coupled to the coupling lightguides (which may be a cladding layer for the lightguides) to adhere the metallized PET film to the stack and block stray light escaping from the coupling lightguides and becoming visible.
  • In one embodiment, the light reflecting element is also a low contact area covering. For example, in one embodiment, the light reflecting element is a metallized PET film comprising a methacrylate based coating that comprises surface relief features. In this embodiment, the light reflecting element may wrap around the stack without significantly extracting light from the coupling lightguides when air is used as a cladding region. In another embodiment, the reflective element has non-planar regions such that the reflective surface is not flat and the contact area between the light reflecting film and one or more coupling lightguides or lightguide regions is a low percentage of the exposed surface area.
  • In another embodiment, the light reflecting element is also a housing element. For example, in one embodiment, the light reflecting element is a reflective coating on the inner wall of the housing for the coupling lightguides. The housing may have reflective surfaces or reflect light from within (such as an internal reflecting layer or material). The light reflecting element may be the housing for the lightguide region or other lightguide or component of the light emitting device.
  • In a further embodiment, the light reflecting element is also a light collimating optical element disposed to reduce the angular full-width at half maximum intensity of light from a light source before the light enters one or more coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is a specularly reflecting multilayer polymeric film (such as a giant birefringent optical film) disposed on one side of the light emitting region of lightguide film and extended in a direction toward the light source with folds or curved regions that are bent or folded to form angled or curved shapes that receive light from the light source and reflect and collimate light toward the input surface of one or more coupling lightguides. More than one fold or curved region may be used to provide different shapes or orientations of light reflecting surfaces for different regions disposed to receive light from the light source. For example, an enhanced specularly reflecting multilayer polymer film (such as a giant birefringent optical film) disposed and optically coupled to the lightguide region of a film-based lightguide using a low refractive index PSA cladding layer may extend toward the light source and comprise a first extended region that wraps around the cladding region to protect and block stray light and further comprise an extended region that comprises two tabs that are folded and a cavity wherein the light source may be disposed such that light from the light source within a first plane is collimated by the extended region tabs. In one embodiment, the use of the light reflecting element that is physically coupled to another component in the light emitting device (such as the film-based lightguide or coupling lightguides) provides an anchor or registration assistance for aligning the light collimating optical element tabs or reflective regions of the light reflecting element.
  • In a further embodiment, the light reflecting element is also a light turning optical element disposed to redirect the optical axis of light in a first plane. In one embodiment, the light reflecting optical element is a specularly reflecting multilayer polymer film (such as a giant birefringent optical film) disposed on one side of the light emitting region of lightguide film and extended in a direction toward the light source with folds or curved regions that are bent or folded to form angled or curved shapes that receive light from the light source and reflect and redirect the optical axis of the incident light toward the input surface of one or more coupling lightguides. More than one fold or curved region may be used to provide different shapes or orientations of light reflecting surfaces for different regions disposed to receive light from the light source. For example, a specularly reflecting multilayer polymer film disposed and optically coupled to the lightguide region of a film-based lightguide using a low refractive index PSA cladding layer may extend toward the light source and comprise an first extended region that wraps around the cladding region to protect and block stray light and further comprise an extended region that comprises two tabs that are folded and a cavity wherein the light source may be disposed such that optical axis of the light from the light source within a first plane in a first direction is redirected by the extended region tabs into a second direction different than the first direction. In one embodiment, the use of the light reflecting element that is physically coupled to another component in the light emitting device (such as the film-based lightguide or coupling lightguides) provides an anchor or registration assistance for aligning the light turning optical element tabs or reflective regions of the light reflecting element.
  • In a further embodiment, the light reflecting element is also a thermal transfer element that transfers heat away from the light source. For example, in one embodiment, the light reflecting element is a reflective aluminum housing disposed on one side of the lightguide region and extending to and thermally coupled to a circuit board that is thermally coupled to the light source such that heat from the light source is thermally transferred to the aluminum. In a another example, the light reflecting optical element is a high reflectance polished region of an aluminum sheet that further comprises (or is thermally coupled to) an extrusion region with fins or heat sink extensions, in another embodiment, the thermal transfer element is an aluminum extrusion comprising the coupling lightguide in an interior region wherein the inner surface of the extrusion is a light reflecting optical element disposed to reflect light received from the coupling lightguides back toward the coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the thermal transfer element is an aluminum extrusion comprising coupling lightguides in an interior region wherein the extrusion further comprises a light collimating reflective surface disposed to collimate light from the light source.
  • Protective Layers
  • In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: light input surface, light input coupler, coupling lightguide, lightguide region, and lightguide comprises a protective element or layer optically coupled to it, physically coupled to it, disposed adjacent to it, or disposed between it and a light emitting surface of the light emitting device. A protective film element can have a higher scratch resistance, higher impact resistance, hardcoating layer, impact absorbing layer or other layer or element suitable to protect at least one selected from the group: light input surface, light input coupler, coupling lightguide, lightguide region, and lightguide from scratches, impacts, dropping the device, and interaction with sharp objects, etc.
  • Coupling Light into the Surface of the Coupling Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, the light input surface of the light input coupler is at least one surface of at least one coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, light is coupled into a coupling lightguide such that it remains in the lightguide for multiple total internal reflections by at least one optical element or feature on at least one surface or optically coupled to at least one surface comprising an optical region selected from the group: lens, prismatic lens, prismatic film, diffraction grating, holographic optical element, diffractive optical element, diffuser, anisotropic diffuser, refractive surface relief features, diffractive surface relief features, volumetric light re-directing features, micro-scale volumetric or surface relief features, nano-scale volumetric or surface relief features, and total-internal-reflection volumetric or surface features. The optical element or feature may be incorporated on one or several coupling lightguides in a stacked or predetermined physically arranged distribution of coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, the optical element or feature is arranged spatially in a pattern within or on one coupling lightguide or across multiple coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, the coupling efficiency of an optical element or feature is greater than one selected from the group: 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% for a wavelength range selected from one selected from the group: 350 nm-400 nm, 400 nm-700 nm, 450 nm-490 nm, 490 nm-560 nm, and 635 nm-700 nm. The coupling efficiency as defined herein is the percent of incident light from a light source disposed to direct light onto at least one coupling lightguide which is coupled into the at least one coupling lightguide disposed to receive light from the light source which remains within the coupling lightguide at an angle greater than the critical angle further along in the region of the lightguide just past the light input surface region. In one embodiment, two or more coupling lightguides are stacked or bundled together wherein they each have an optical element or feature disposed to couple light into the coupling lightguide and the optical element or feature has a coupling efficiency less than one selected from the group: 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% for a wavelength range selected from one selected from the group: 350 nm-400 nm, 400 nm-700 nm, 450 nm-490 nm, 490 nm-560 nm, and 635 nm-700 nm. By stacking a group of coupling lightguides, for example, one can use lower coupling efficiencies to enable a portion of the incident light to pass through a first coupling lightguide onto a second coupling lightguide to allow light to be coupled into the second coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the coupling efficiency is graded or varies in a first direction through an arrangement of coupling lightguides and a light reflecting element or region is disposed on the opposite side of the arrangement of coupling lightguides disposed to reflect a portion of incident light back through the coupling lightguides.
  • Coupling Light into Two or More Surfaces
  • In one embodiment, light is coupled through light input couplers, coupling lightguides, optical elements, or a combination thereof to at least two surfaces or surface regions of a at least one lightguide in a light emitting device. In another embodiment, the light coupled through the surface of a lightguide or lightguide region is directed by the light extraction features into an angular range different than that of the light directed by the same or different light extraction features from light coupled through a second surface or second surface region of a lightguide or lightguide region of a light emitting device. In another embodiment, a first light extracting region comprising a first set of light re-directing features or light extraction features that directs light incident through a first surface or edge into a first range of angles upon exiting the light emitting surface of the lightguide and a second light extracting region comprises a second set of light re-directing or light extraction features that direct light incident through a second surface or edge into a second range of angles upon exiting the light emitting surface of the lightguide. Variations in the light re-directing features include, but are not limited to, feature height, shape, orientation, density, width, length, material, angle of a surface, location in the x, y, and z direction and include dispersed phase domains, grooves, pits, micro-lenses, prismatic elements, air cavities, hollow microspheres, dispersed microspheres, and other known light extraction features or elements. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises at least one lightguide and a first light source disposed to couple light through a surface of at least one lightguide and a second light source disposed to couple light through the edge of at least one lightguide wherein the coupling mechanism is at least one selected from the group: light input couplers, optical element, coupling lightguide, optical components or coupling lightguides optically coupled to a surface or edge, diffractive optics, holographic optical element, diffraction grating, Fresnel lens element, prismatic film, light redirecting optic, and other optical element.
  • Light Input Couplers Disposed Near More than One Edge of a Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a plurality of light input couplers disposed to couple light into a lightguide from at least two input regions disposed near two different edges of a lightguide. In another embodiment, two light input couplers are disposed on opposite sides of a lightguide. In another embodiment, light input couplers are disposed on three or four sides of a film-type lightguide. In a further embodiment, more than one light input coupler, housing, or light input surface is disposed to receive light from a single light source, light source package, array of light sources or light source strip (such as a substantially linear array of LEDs). For example, two housing for two light input couplers disposed to couple light to two different regions of a lightguide are disposed to receive light from a substantially linear array of LEDs. In another embodiment a first input surface comprising a first collection of coupling lightguides optically coupled to a first region of a lightguide and a second input surface comprising a second collection of coupling lightguides optically coupled to a second region of a lightguide different than the first region are disposed to receive light from one selected from the group: the same light source, a plurality of light sources, light sources in a package, an array or collection of light sources, a linear array of light sources, one or more LEDs, an LED package, a linear array of LEDs, and LEDs of multiple colors.
  • Strip Folding Device
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises frame members which assist in at least one of the folding or holding of the coupling lightguides or strips. Methods for folding and holding coupling lightguides such as film-based lightguides using frame members are disclosed in International (PCT) Publication No. WO 2009/048863 and PCT application entitled “Illumination via flexible thin films” filed on Jan. 26, 2010 by Anthony Nichols and Shawn Pucylowski, and US Provisional patent applications serial numbers 61/147,215 and 61/147,237. In one embodiment, the coupling lightguide folding (or bending) and/or holding (or housing) element is formed from at least one selected from the group: rigid plastic material, black colored material, opaque material, semi-transparent material, metal foil, metal sheet, aluminum sheet, and aluminum foil. In one embodiment, the folding or holding material has a flexural rigidity or (flexural modulus) at least twice the flexural rigidity (or modulus) of the film or coupling lightguides which it folds or holds.
  • Housing or Holding Device for Light Input Coupler
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a housing or holding device that holds or contains at least part of a light input coupler and light source. The housing or holding device may house or contain within at least one selected from the group: light input coupler, light source, coupling lightguides, lightguide, optical components, electrical components, heat sink or other thermal components, attachment mechanisms, registration mechanisms, folding mechanisms devices, and frames. The housing or holding device may comprise a plurality of components or any combination of the aforementioned components. The housing or holding device may serve one or more of functions selected from the group: protect from dust and debris contamination, provide air-tight seat, provide a water-tight seal, house or contain components, provide a safety housing for electrical or optical components, assist with the folding or bending of the coupling lightguides, assist in the alignment or holding of the lightguide, coupling lightguide, light source or light input coupler relative to another component, maintain the arrangement of the coupling lightguides, recycle light (such as with reflecting inner walls), provide attachment mechanisms for attaching the light emitting device to an external object or surface, provide an opaque container such that stray light does not escape through specific regions, provide a translucent surface for displaying indicia or providing illumination to an object external to the light emitting device, comprise a connector for release and interchangeability of components, and provide a latch or connector to connect with other holding devices or housings.
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides are terminated within the housing or holding element. In another embodiment, the inner surface of the housing or holding element has a specular or diffuse reflectance greater than 50% and the inner surface appears white or mirror-like. In another embodiment, the outer surface of the housing or holding device has a specular or diffuse reflectance greater than 50% and the outer surface appears white or mirror-like. In another embodiment, at least one wall of the housing or holding device has a specular or diffuse reflectance less than 50% and the inner surface appears gray, black or like a very dark mirror. In another embodiment, at least one wall or surface of the housing or holding device is opaque and has a luminous transmittance measured according to ASTM D1003 of less than 50%. In another embodiment, at least one wall or surface of the housing or holding device has a luminous transmittance measured according to ASTM D1003 greater than 30% and the light exiting the wall or surface from the light source within the housing or holding device provides illumination for a component of the light emitting device, illumination for an object external to the light emitting device, or illumination of a surface to display a sign, indicia, passive display, a second display or indicia, or an active display such as providing backlight illumination for an LCD.
  • In one embodiment, the housing or holding device comprises at least one selected from the group: connector, pin, clip, latch, adhesive region, clamp, joining mechanism, and other connecting element or mechanical means to connect or hold the housing or holding device to one or more selected from the group: another housing or holding device, lightguide, coupling lightguide, film, strip, cartridge, removable component or components, an exterior surface such as a window or automobile, light source, electronics or electrical component, the circuit board for the electronics or light source such as an LED, heat sink or other thermal control element, frame of the light emitting device, and other component of the light emitting device.
  • In a another embodiment, the input ends and output ends of the coupling lightguides are held in physical contact with the relative position maintaining elements by at least one selected from the group: magnetic grips, mechanical grips, clamps, screws, mechanical adhesion, chemical adhesion, dispersive adhesion, diffusive adhesion, electrostatic adhesion, vacuum holding, or an adhesive.
  • Curved or Flexible Housing
  • In another embodiment, the housing comprises at least one curved surface. A curved surface can permit non-linear shapes or devices or facilitate incorporating non-planer or bent lightguides or coupling lightguides. In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a housing with at least one curved surface wherein the housing comprises curved or bent coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, the housing is flexible such that it may be bent temporarily, permanently or semi-permanently. By using a flexible housing, for example, the light emitting device may be able to be bent such that the light emitting surface is curved along with the housing, the light emitting area may curve around a bend in a wall or corner, for example. In one embodiment, the housing or lightguide may be bent temporarily such that the initial shape is substantially restored (bending a long housing to get it through a door for example). In another embodiment, the housing or lightguide may be bent permanently or semi-permanently such that the bent shape is substantially sustained after release (such as when it is desired to have a curved light emitting device to provide a curved sign or display, for example).
  • Housing Including a Thermal Transfer Element
  • In one embodiment, the housing comprises a thermal transfer element disposed to transfer heat from a component within the housing to an outer surface of the housing. In another embodiment, the thermal transfer element is one selected from the group: heat sink, metallic or ceramic element, fan, heat pipe, synthetic jet, air jet producing actuator, active cooling element, passive cooling element, rear portion of a metal core or other conductive circuit board, thermally conductive adhesive, or other component known to thermally conduct heat. In one embodiment, the thermal transfer element has a thermal conductivity (W/(m·K)) greater than one selected from the group: 0.2, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 3, 5, 50, 100, 120, 180, 237, 300, and 400.
  • Size of the Housing or Coupling Lightguide Holding Device
  • In one embodiment, the sizes of the two smaller dimensions of the housing or coupling lightguide holding device are less than one selected from the group: 500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 50, 25, 10, and 5 times the thickness of the lightguide or coupling lightguides. In another embodiment, at least one dimension of the housing or lightguide holding device is smaller due to the use of more than one light input coupler disposed along an edge of the lightguide. In this embodiment, the thickness of the housing or holding device can be reduced because for a fixed number of strips or coupling lightguides, they can be arranged into multiple smaller stacks instead of a single larger stack. This also enables more light to be coupled into the lightguide by using multiple light input couplers and light sources.
  • Low Contact Area Cover
  • In one embodiment, a low contact area cover is disposed between at least one coupling lightguide and the exterior to the light emitting device. The low contact area cover or wrap provides a low surface area of contact with a region of the lightguide or a coupling lightguide and may further provide at least one selected from the group: protection from fingerprints, protection from dust or air contaminants, protection from moisture, protection from internal or external objects that would decouple or absorb more light than the low contact area cover when in contact in one or more regions with one or more coupling lightguides, provide a means for holding or containing at least one coupling lightguide, hold the relative position of one or more coupling lightguides, and prevent the coupling lightguides from unfolding into a larger volume or contact with a surface that could de-couple or absorb light.
  • In another embodiment, the low contact area cover is disposed between the outer surface of the light emitting device and the regions of the coupling lightguides disposed between the fold or bend region and the lightguide or light mixing region. In a further embodiment, the low contact area cover is disposed between the outer surface of the light emitting device and the regions of the coupling lightguides disposed between the light input surface of the coupling lightguides and the lightguide or light mixing region, in another embodiment, the low contact area cover is disposed between the outer surface of the light emitting device and a portion of the regions of the coupling lightguides not enclosed by a housing, protective cover, or other component disposed between the coupling lightguides and the outer surface of the light emitting device. In one embodiment, the low contact area cover is the housing, relative position maintaining element, or a portion of the housing or relative positioning maintaining element.
  • Film-Based Low Contact Area Cover
  • In one embodiment the low contact area cover is a film with at least one of a lower refractive index than the refractive index of the outer material of the coupling lightguide disposed near the low contact area cover, and a surface relief pattern or structure on the surface of the film-based low contact area cover disposed near at least one coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, the low contact area comprises convex or protruding surface relief features disposed near at least one outer surface of at least one coupling lightguide and the average percentage of the area disposed adjacent to an outer surface of a coupling lightguide or the lightguide that is in physical contact with the surface relief features is less than one of the following: 70%, 50%, 30%, 10%, 5%, and 1%. In one embodiment, a convex surface relief profile designed to have a low contact area with a surface of the coupling lightguide will at least one selected from the group: extract, absorb, scatter, or otherwise alter the intensity or direction of a lower percentage of light propagating within the coupling lightguide than a flat surface of the same material in one embodiment, the surface relief profile is at least one selected from the group: random, semi-random, ordered, regular in one or 2 directions, holographic, tailored, comprise cones, truncated polyhedrons, truncated hemispheres, truncated cones, truncated pyramids, pyramids, prisms, pointed shapes, round tipped shapes, rods, cylinders, hemispheres, and other geometrical shapes. In one embodiment, the low contact area cover material or film is at least one selected from the group: transparent, translucent, opaque, light absorbing, light reflecting, substantially black, substantially white, has a diffuse reflectance specular component included greater than 70%, has a diffuse reflectance specular component included less than 70%, has an ASTM D1003 luminous transmittance less than 30%, has an ASTM D1003 luminous transmittance greater than 30%, absorbs at least 50% of the incident light, absorbs less than 50% of the incident light, has an electrical sheet resistance less than 10 ohms per square, and have an electrical sheet resistance greater than 10 ohms per square.
  • In another embodiment, the low contact area cover is a film with a thickness less than one selected from the group: 600 microns, 500 microns, 400 microns, 300 microns, 200 microns, 100 microns, and 50 microns.
  • Wrap Around Low Contact Area Cover
  • In a further embodiment, the low contact area cover is the inner surface or physically coupled to a surface of a housing, holding device, or relative position maintaining element. In a further embodiment, the low contact area cover is a film which wraps around at least one coupling lightguide such that at least one lateral edge and at least one lateral surface is substantially covered such that the low contact area cover is disposed between the coupling lightguide and the outer surface of the device.
  • In another embodiment, a film-based lightguide comprises a low contact area cover wrapped around a first group of coupling lightguides wherein the low contact area cover is physically coupled to at least one selected from the group: lightguide, lightguide film, light input coupler, lightguide, housing, and thermal transfer element by a low contact area cover physical coupling mechanism. In another embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a first cylindrical tension rod disposed to apply tension to the low contact area cover film and hold the coupling lightguides close together and close to the lightguide such that the light input coupler has a lower profile. In another embodiment, the low contact area cover can be pulled taught after physically coupling to at least one selected from the group: lightguide, lightguide film, light input coupler, lightguide, housing, thermal transfer element, and other element or housing by moving the first cylindrical tension rod away from a second tension bar or away from a physical coupling point of the mechanism holding the tension bar such as a brace. Other shapes and forms for the tension forming element may be used such as a rod with a rectangular cross-section, a hemispherical cross-section, or other element longer in a first direction capable of providing tension when translated or supporting tension when held stationary relative to other components. In another embodiment, a first cylindrical tension rod may be translated in a first direction to provide tension while remaining in a brace region and the position of the cylindrical tension rod may be locked or forced to remain in place by tightening a screw for example. In another embodiment, the tension forming element and the brace or physical coupling mechanism for coupling it to the another component of the light input coupler does not extend more than one selected from the group: 1 millimeter, 2 millimeters, 3 millimeters, 5 millimeters, 7 millimeters and 10 millimeters past at least one edge of the lightguide in the direction parallel to the longer dimension of the tension forming element.
  • Low Hardness Low Contact Area Cover
  • In another embodiment, the low contact area cover has an ASTM D3363 pencil hardness under force from a 300 gram weight less than the outer surface region of the coupling lightguide disposed near the low contact area cover. In one embodiment, the low contact area cover comprises a silicone, polyurethane, rubber, or thermoplastic polyurethane with a surface relief pattern or structure. In a further embodiment, the ASTM D3363 pencil hardness under force from a 300 gram weight of the low contact area cover is at least 2 grades less than the outer surface region of the coupling lightguide disposed near the low contact area cover.
  • Physical Coupling Mechanism for Low Contact Area Cover
  • In one embodiment, the low contact area cover is physically coupled in a first contact region to the light emitting device, light input coupler, lightguide, housing, second region of the low contact area cover, or thermal transfer element by one or more methods selected from the group: sewing (or threading or feeding a fiber, wire, or thread) the low contact area cover to the lightguide, light mixing region, or other component, welding (sonic, laser, thermo-mechanically, etc.) the low contact area cover to one or more components, adhering (epoxy, glue, pressure sensitive adhesive, etc.) the low contact area cover to one or more components, fastening the low contact area cover to one or more components. In a further embodiment, the fastening mechanism is selected from the group: a batten, button, clamp, clasp, clip, clutch (pin fastener), flange, grommet, anchor, nail, pin, peg, clevis pin, cotter pin, linchpin, R-clip, retaining ring, circlip retaining ring, e-ring retaining ring, rivet, screw anchor, snap, staple, stitch, strap, tack, threaded fastener, captive threaded fasteners (nut, screw, stud, threaded insert, threaded rod), tie, toggle, hook-and-loop strips, wedge anchor, and zipper.
  • In another embodiment, the physical coupling mechanism maintains the flexibility of at least selected from the group: light emitting device, lightguide and coupling lightguides. In a further embodiment, the total surface area of the physical coupling mechanism in contact with at least one selected from the group: low contact area cover, coupling lightguides, lightguide region, light mixing region, and light emitting device is less than one selected from the group: 70%, 50%, 30%, 10%, 5%, and 1%. In another embodiment, the total percentage of the cross sectional area of the layers comprising light propagating under total internal reflection comprising the largest component of the low contact area cover physical coupling mechanism in a first direction perpendicular to the optical axis of the light within the coupling lightguides, light mixing region or lightguide region relative to the cross-sectional area in the first direction is less than one selected from the group: 10%, 5%, 1%, 0.5%, 0.1%, and 0.05%. For example, in one embodiment, the low contact area cover is a flexible transparent polyurethane film with a surface comprising a regular two-dimensional array of embossed hemispheres disposed adjacent and wrapping around the stack of coupling lightguides and is physically coupled to the light mixing region of the lightguide comprising a 25 micron thick core layer by threading the film to the light mixing region using a transparent nylon fiber with a diameter less than 25 microns into 25 micron holes at 1 centimeter intervals. In this example, the largest component of the physical coupling mechanism is the holes in the core region which can scatter light out of the lightguide. Therefore, the aforementioned cross sectional area of the physical coupling mechanism (the holes in the core layer) is 0.25% of the cross sectional area of the core layer. In another embodiment, the fiber or material threaded through the holes in one or more components comprises at least one selected from the group: polymer fiber, polyester fiber, rubber fiber, cable, wire (such as a thin steel wire), aluminum wire, and nylon fiber such as used in fishing line. In a further embodiment, the diameter of the fiber or material threaded through the holes is less than one selected from the group: 500 microns, 300 microns, 200 microns, 100 microns, 50 microns, 25 microns, and 10 microns. In another embodiment, the fiber or threaded material is substantially transparent or translucent.
  • In another embodiment, the physical coupling mechanism for the low contact area cover comprises holes within lightguide through which an adhesive, epoxy or other adhering material is deposited which bonds to the low contact area cover, in another embodiment, the adhesive, epoxy, or other adhering material bonds to the low contact area cover and at least one selected from the group: core region, cladding region, and lightguide. In another embodiment, the adhesive material has a refractive index greater than 1.48 and reduces the scatter out of the lightguide from the hole region over using an air gap or an air gap with a fiber, thread, or wire through the hole. In a further embodiment, an adhesive is applied as a coating on the fiber (which may be UV activated, cured, etc. after threading, for example) or an adhesive is applied to the fiber in the region of the hole such that the adhesive wicks into the hole to provide reduced scattering by at least one selected from the group: optically coupling the inner surfaces of the hole, and optically coupling the fiber to the inner surfaces of the hole.
  • The physical coupling mechanism in one embodiment may be used to physically couple together one or more elements selected from the group: film-based lightguide, low contact area cover film, housing, relative position maintaining element, light redirecting element or film, diffuser film, collimation film, light extracting film, protective film, touchscreen film, thermal transfer element, and other film or component within the light emitting device.
  • Lightguide Configuration and Properties
  • The use of plastic film with thickness less than 0.5 mm for edge lit lightguides can hold many advantages over using plastic plate or sheets. A flexible film may be able to be shaped to surfaces, be folded up for storage, change shape as needed, or wave in the air. Another advantage may be lower cost. The reduction in thickness helps reduce the cost for material, fabrication, storage and shipping for a lightguide of a given width and length. Another reason may be that the decreased thickness makes it able to be added to surfaces without appreciable change in the surface's shape, thickness and or appearance. For example, it can be added to the surface of a window easily without changing the look of the window. Another advantage may be that the film or lightguide can be rolled up. This helps in transportability, can hold some functionality, and may be particularly useful for hand-held devices where a roll-out screen is used. A fifth reason is that the film can weigh less, which again makes it easier to handle and transport. A sixth reason may be that film is commonly extruded in large rolls so larger edge-lit signage can be produced. Finally, a seventh reason may be that there are many companies set up to coat, cut, laminate and manipulate film since film is useful for many other industries. Plastic films are made by blown or cast-extrusion in widths up to 6.096 meters or longer and in rolls thousands of meters long. Co-extrusion of different materials from two to 100 layers can be achieved with special extrusion dies.
  • Thickness of the Film or Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, the thickness of the film, lightguide or lightguide region is within a range of 0.005 mm to 0.5 mm. In another embodiment, the thickness of the film or lightguide is within a range of 0.025 millimeters to 0.5 millimeters. In a further embodiment, the thickness of the film, lightguide or lightguide region is within a range of 0.050 millimeters to 0.175 millimeters. In one embodiment, the thickness of the film, lightguide or lightguide region is less than 0.2 millimeters or less than 0.5 millimeters. In one embodiment, the average thickness of the lightguide or core region is less than one selected from the group: 150 microns, 100 microns, 60 microns, 30 microns, 20 microns, 10 microns, 6 microns, and 4 microns. In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: thickness, largest thickness, average thickness, greater than 90% of the entire thickness of one or more selected from the group: film, lightguide, and lightguide region is less than 0.2 millimeters. In another embodiment, the size to thickness ratio, defined as the largest dimension of the light emitting region in the plane of the light emitting region divided by the average thickness within the light emitting region is greater than one selected from the group: 100; 500; 1,000; 3,000; 5,000; 10,000; 15,000; 20,000; 30,000; and 50,000.
  • Optical Properties of the Lightguide or Light Transmitting Material
  • With regards to the optical properties of lightguides or light transmitting materials for embodiments, the optical properties specified herein may be general properties of the lightguide, the core, the cladding, or a combination thereof or they may correspond to a specific region (such as a light emitting region, light mixing region, or light extracting region), surface (light input surface, diffuse surface, flat surface), and direction (such as measured normal to the surface or measured in the direction of light propagation through the lightguide). In one embodiment, the average luminous transmittance of the lightguide measured within at least one selected from the group: light emitting region, light mixing region, and lightguide according to ASTM D1003 with a BYK Gardner haze meter is greater than one selected from the group: 70%, 80%, 88%, 92%, 94%, 96%, 98%, and 99%. In another embodiment, the average luminous transmittance of the lightguide measured within the major light emitting area (the area comprising greater than 80% of the total light emitted from the lightguide) according to ASTM D1003 with a BYK Gardner haze meter is greater than one selected from the group: 70%, 80%, 88%, 92%, 94%, 96%, 98%, and 99%.
  • In another embodiment, the average haze of the lightguide measured within at least one selected from the group: light emitting region, light mixing region, and lightguide measured with a BYK Gardner haze meter is less than one selected from the group: 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, 5% and 3%. In another embodiment, the average clarity of the lightguide measured within at least one selected from the group: light emitting region, light mixing region, and lightguide according to the measurement procedure associated with ASTM D1003 with a BYK Gardner haze meter is greater than one selected from the group: 70%, 80%, 88%, 92%, 94%, 96%, 98%, and 99%.
  • In a further embodiment, the diffuse reflectance of the lightguide measured within at least one selected from the group: light emitting region, light mixing region, and lightguide using a Minolta CM-508d spectrophotometer is less than one selected from the group: 30%, 20%, 10%, 7%, 5%, and 2% with the spectral component included or with the spectral component excluded when placed above a light absorbing 6″×6″×6″ box comprising Light Absorbing Black-Out Material from Edmund Optics on the inner walls. In another embodiment, the diffuse reflectance of the lightguide measured within the major light emitting area (the area comprising greater than 80% of the total light emitted from the lightguide) using a Minolta CM-508d spectrophotometer is less than one selected from the group: 30%, 20%, 10%, 7%, 5%, and 2% with the spectral component included or with the spectral component excluded when placed above a light absorbing 6″×6″×6″ box comprising Light Absorbing Black-Out Material from Edmund Optics Inc. on the inner walls.
  • In another embodiment, the average clarity of the lightguide measured within at least one selected from the group: light emitting region, light mixing region, and lightguide measured with a BYK Gardner haze meter is greater than one selected from the group: 70%, 80%, 88%, 92%, 94%, 96%, 98%, and 99%.
  • Factors which can determine the transmission of light through the film (in the thickness direction) include inherent material absorption, refractive index (light loss due to Fresnel reflections), scattering (refraction, reflection, or diffraction) from particles or features within the volume or on a surface or interface (size, shape, spacing, total number of particles or density in two orthogonal directions parallel to the film plane and the plane orthogonal to the absorption/scattering/reflection/refraction due to other materials (additional layers, claddings, adhesives, etc.), anti-reflection coatings, surface relief features.
  • In one embodiment, the use of a thin film for the lightguide permits the reduction in size of light extraction features because more waveguide modes will reach the light extraction feature when the thickness of the film is reduced. In a thin lightguide, the overlap of modes is increased when the thickness of the waveguide is reduced.
  • In one embodiment, the film-based lightguide has a graded refractive index profile in the thickness direction. In another embodiment, the thickness of the lightguide region or lightguide is less than 10 microns and the lightguide is a single mode lightguide.
  • In one embodiment, the light transmitting material used in at least one selected from the group: coupling lightguide, lightguide, lightguide region, optical element, optical film, core layer, cladding layer, and optical adhesive has an optical absorption (dB/km) less than one selected from the group: 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 dB/km for a wavelength range of interest. The optical absorption value may be for all of the wavelengths throughout the range of interest or an average value throughout the wavelengths of interest. The wavelength range of interest for high transmission through the light transmitting material may cover the light source output spectrum, the light emitting device output spectrum, optical functionality requirements (IR transmission for cameras, motion detectors, etc., for example), or some combination thereof. The wavelength range of interest may be a wavelength range selected from the group: 400 nm-700 nm, 300 nm-800 nm, 300 nm-1200 nm, 300 nm-350 nm, 300-450 nm, 350 nm-400 nm, 400 nm-450 nm, 450 nm-490 nm, 490 nm-560 nm, 500 nm-550 nm, 550 nm-600 nm, 600 nm-650 nm, 635 nm-700 nm, 650 nm-700 nm, 700 nm-750 nm, 750 nm-800 nm, and 800 nm-1200 nm.
  • Collimated tight propagating through light transmitting material may be reduced in intensity after passing through the material due to scattering (scattering loss coefficient), absorption (absorption coefficient), or a combination of scattering and absorption (attenuation coefficient). In one embodiment, the core material of the lightguide has an average absorption coefficient for collimated light less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the visible wavelength spectrum from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. In another embodiment, the core material of the lightguide has an average scattering loss coefficient for collimated light less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the visible wavelength spectrum from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. In one embodiment, the core material of the lightguide has an average attenuation coefficient for collimated light less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the visible wavelength spectrum from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. In another embodiment, the lightguide is disposed to receive infrared light and the average of at least one selected from the group: absorption coefficient, scattering loss coefficient, and attenuation coefficient of the core layer or cladding layer for collimated light is less than one selected from the group: 0.03 cm−1, 0.02 cm−1, 0.01 cm−1, and 0.005 cm−1 over the wavelength spectrum from 700 nanometers to 900 nanometers.
  • In one embodiment, the lightguide has a low absorption in the UV and blue region and the lightguide further comprises a phosphor film or wavelength conversion element. By using a blue or UV light source and a wavelength conversion element near the output surface of the lightguide for generation of white light, the light transmitting material can be optimized for very high blue or UV light transmission. This can increase the range of materials suitable for lightguides to include those that have high absorption coefficients in the green and red wavelength regions for example.
  • In another embodiment, the lightguide is the substrate for a display technology. Various high performance films are known in the display industry as having sufficient mechanical and optical properties. These include, but are not limited to polycarbonate, PET, PMMA, PEN. COC, PSU, PFA, FIT, and films made from blends and multilayer components. In one embodiment, the light extraction feature is formed in a lightguide region of a film before or after the film is utilized as a substrate for the production or use as a substrate for a display such as an OLED display, MEMs based display, polymer film-based display, bi-stable display, electrophoretic display, electrochromic display, electro-optical display, passive matrix display, or other display that can be produced using polymer substrates.
  • Refractive Index of the Light Transmitting Material
  • In one embodiment, the core material of the lightguide has a high refractive index and the cladding material has a low refractive index. In one embodiment, the core is formed from a material with a refractive index (nD) greater than one selected from the group: 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, and 3.0. In another embodiment, the refractive index (nD) of the cladding material is less than one selected from the group: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5.
  • The core or the cladding or other light transmitting material used within an embodiment may be a thermoplastic, thermoset, rubber, polymer, silicone or other light transmitting material. Optical products can be prepared from high index of refraction materials, including monomers such as high index of refraction (meth)acrylate monomers, halogenated monomers, and other such high index of refraction monomers as are known in the art. High refractive index materials such as these and others are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,568,445; 4,721,377; 4,812,032; 5,424,339; 5,183,917; 6,541,591; 7,491,441; 7,297,810, 6,355,754, 7,682,710; 7,642,335; 7,632,904; 7,407,992; 7,375,178; 6,117,530; 5,777,433; 6,533,959; 6,541,591; 7,038,745 and U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/866,521; 12/165,765; 12/307,555; and 11/556,432. High refractive index pressure sensitive adhesives such as those disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/608,019 may also be used as a core layer or layer component.
  • Low refractive index materials include sol gels, fluoropolymers, fluorinated sol-gels, PMP, and other materials such fluoropolyether urethanes such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,575,847, and other low refractive index material such as those disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/972,034; 12/559,690; 12/294,694; 10/098,813; 11/026,614; and U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,374,812; 7,709,551; 7,625,984; 7,164,536; 5,594,830 and 7,419,707.
  • Materials such a nanoparticles (titanium dioxide, and other oxides for example), blends, alloys, doping, sol gel, and other techniques may be used to increase or decrease the refractive index of a material.
  • In another embodiment the refractive index or location of a region of lightguide or lightguide region changes in response to environmental changes or controlled changes. These changes can include electrical current, electromagnetic field, magnetic field, temperature, pressure, chemical reaction, movement of particles or materials (such as electrophoresis or electrowetting), optical irradiation, orientation of the object with respect to gravitational field, MEMS devices, MOEMS devices, and other techniques for changing mechanical, electrical, optical or physical properties such as those known in the of smart materials. In one embodiment, the light extraction feature couples more or less light out of the lightguide in response to an applied voltage or electromagnetic field. In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a lightguide wherein properties of the lightguide (such as the position of the lightguide) which change to couple more or less light out of a lightguide such as those incorporated in MEMs type displays and devices as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 12/511,693; 12/606,675; 12/221,606; 12/258,206; 12/483,062; 12/221,193; 11/975,411 11/975,398; 10/31/2003; 10/699,397 and U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,586,560; 7,535,611; 6,680,792; 7,556,917; 7,532,377; and 7,297,471.
  • Edges of the Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, the edges of the lightguide or lightguide region are coated, bonded to or disposed adjacent to a specularly reflecting material, partially diffusely reflecting material, or diffuse reflecting material. In one embodiment, the lightguide edges are coated with a specularly reflecting ink comprising nano-sized or micron-sized particles or flakes which reflect the light substantially specularly. In another embodiment, a light reflecting element (such as a specularly reflecting multi-layer polymer film with high reflectivity) is disposed near the lightguide edge and is disposed to receive light from the edge and reflect it and direct it back into the lightguide. In another embodiment, the lightguide edges are rounded and the percentage of light diffracted from the edge is reduced. One method of achieving rounded edges is by using a laser to cut the lightguide from a film and achieve edge rounding through control of the processing parameters (speed of cut, frequency of cut, laser power, etc.). In another embodiment, the edges of the lightguide are tapered, angled serrated, or otherwise cut or formed such that light from a light source propagating within the coupling lightguide reflects from the edge such that it is directed into an angle closer to the optical axis of the light source, toward a folded region, toward a bent region, toward a lightguide, toward a lightguide region, or toward the optical axis of the light emitting device. In a further embodiment, two or more light sources are disposed to each couple light into two or more coupling lightguides comprising light re-directing regions for each of the two or more light sources that comprise first and second reflective surfaces which direct a portion of light from the light source into an angle closer to the optical axis of the light source, toward a folded or bent region, toward a lightguide region, toward a lightguide region, or toward the optical axis of the light emitting device.
  • Surfaces of the Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, at least one surface of the lightguide or lightguide region is coated, bonded to or disposed adjacent to a specularly reflecting material, partially diffusely reflecting material, or diffuse reflecting material. In one embodiment, at least on lightguide surface is coated with a specularly reflecting ink comprising nano-sized or micron-sized particles or flakes which reflect the light substantially specularly. In another embodiment, a light reflecting element (such as a specularly reflecting multi-layer polymer film with high reflectivity) is disposed near the lightguide surface opposite the light emitting surface and is disposed to receive light from the surface and reflect it and direct it back into the lightguide. In another embodiment, the outer surface of at least one lightguide or component coupled to the lightguide comprises a microstructure to reduce the appearance of fingerprints. Such microstructures are known in the art of hardcoatings for displays and examples are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/537,930.
  • Shape of the Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, at least a portion of the lightguide shape or lightguide surface is at least one selected from the group: substantially planar, curved, cylindrical, a formed shape from a substantially planar film, spherical, partially spherical, angled, twisted, rounded, have a quadric surface, spheroid, cuboid, parallelepiped, triangular prism, rectangular prism, ellipsoid, ovoid, cone pyramid, tapered triangular prism and other known geometrical solids or shapes. In one embodiment, the lightguide is a film which has been formed into a shape by thermoforming or other forming technique. In another embodiment, the film or region of the film is tapered in at least one direction. In a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a plurality of lightguides and a plurality of light sources physically couple or arranged together (such as tiled in a 1×2 array for example). In another embodiment, the lightguide region of the film is substantially in the shape of one selected from the group: rectangular, square, circle, doughnut shaped (elliptical with a hole in the inner region), elliptical, linear strip, tube (with a circular, rectangular, polygonal, or other shaped cross-section).
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lightguide formed from a film into a hollow cylindrical tube comprises coupling lightguide strips branching from the film on a short edge toward the inner portion of the cylinder. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a film lightguide with coupling lightguides cut into the film so that they remain coupled to the lightguide region and the central strip is not optically coupled to the lightguide and provides a spine with increased stiffness in at least one direction near the central strip region or lightguide region near the strip. In a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises lightguides with light input couplers arranged such that the light source is disposed in the central region of the edge of the lightguide and that the light input coupler (or a component thereof) does not extend past the edge and enables the lightguides to be tiled in at least one of a 1×2, 2×2, 2×3, 3×3 or larger array. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises light emitting lightguides wherein the separation between the lightguides in at least one direction along the light emitting surface is less than one selected from the group: 10 mm, 5 mm, 3 mm, 2 mm, 1 mm, and 0.5 mm.
  • In another embodiment, the lightguide comprises single fold or bend near an edge of the lightguide such that the lightguide folds under or over itself. In this embodiment, light which would ordinarily be lost at the edge of a lightguide may be further extracted from the lightguide after the fold or bend to increase the optical efficiency of the lightguide or device. In another embodiment, the light extraction features on the lightguide disposed in the optical path of the light within the lightguide after the fold or bend provide light extraction features that increase at least one selected from the group: the luminance, luminance uniformity, color uniformity, optical efficiency, and image or logo clarity or resolution.
  • Edges Fold Around Back onto the Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, at least one edge region of one or more selected from the group: lightguide, lightguide region, and coupling lightguides folds or bends back upon itself and is optically coupled to the lightguide, lightguide region or coupling lightguide such that a portion entering the edge region is coupled back into the lightguide, lightguide region, or coupling lightguide in a direction away from the edge region. The edge regions may be adhered using an adhesive such as PSA or other adhesive, thermally bonded, or otherwise optically coupled back onto the lightguide, lightguide region, or coupling lightguide. In one embodiment, folding the edge regions of the lightguide redirects light that would normally exit the edge of the film back into the lightguide, and the optical efficiency of the system is increased.
  • In another embodiment, the thickness of the lightguide, lightguide region, or coupling lightguide is thinner in the region near an edge than the average thickness of the lightguide in the light emitting region or lightguide region. In another embodiment, the thickness of the lightguide, lightguide region, or coupling lightguide is less than one selected from the group: 90%, 80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, and 5% of the average thickness of the lightguide in the light emitting region or lightguide region.
  • In one embodiment, the thickness of the lightguide, lightguide region, or coupling lightguide is tapered in the region near an edge. In one embodiment, tapering the thickness in the region near edge permits more light to couple back into the lightguide when it is optically coupled to the surface of the lightguide or lightguide region.
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device has an optical efficiency, defined as the luminous flux of the light exiting the light emitting device in the light emitting region divided by the luminous flux of the light exiting the light source disposed to direct light into the input coupler, greater than one selected from the group: 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90%.
  • In another embodiment, the edge region of a lightguide not disposed to receive light directly from a light source or light input coupler is formed or coupled into a light output coupler comprising coupling lightguides which are folded or bent to create a light output surface. In another embodiment, the light output surface is optically coupled to or disposed proximal to a light input surface of a light input coupler for the same lightguide or film or a second lightguide or film. In this embodiment, the light reaching the edge of a lightguide may be coupled into coupling strips which are folded and bent to direct light back into the lightguide and recycle the light.
  • Lightguide Material
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lightguide or lightguide region formed from at least one light transmitting material. In one embodiment, the lightguide is a film comprising at least one core region and at least one cladding region, each comprising at least one light transmitting material. In one embodiment, the core material is substantially flexible (such as a rubber or adhesive) and the cladding material supports and provides at least one selected from the group: increased flexural modulus, increased impact strength, increased tear resistance, and increased scratch resistance for the combined element. In another embodiment, the cladding material is substantially flexible (such as a rubber or adhesive) and the core material supports and provides at least one selected from the group: increased flexural modulus, increased impact strength, increased tear resistance, and increased scratch resistance for the combined element.
  • The light transmitting material used within an embodiment may be a thermoplastic, thermoset, rubber; polymer, high transmission silicone, glass, composite; alloy, blend, silicone, other light transmitting material, or a combination thereof.
  • In one embodiment, a component or region of the light emitting device comprises a light transmitting material selected from the group: cellulose derivatives (e.g., cellulose ethers such as ethylcellulose and cyanoethylcellulose, cellulose esters such as cellulose acetate), acrylic resins, styrenic resins (e.g., polystyrene), polyvinyl-series resins(e.g., poly(vinyl ester) such as poly(vinyl acetate), polyvinyl halide) such as poly(vinyl chloride), polyvinyl alkyl ethers or polyether-series resins such as poly(vinyl methyl ether), poly(vinyl isobutyl ether) and poly(vinyl t-butyl ether)], polycarbonate-series resins (e.g., aromatic polycarbonates such as bisphenol A-type polycarbonate), polyester-series resins(e.g., homopolyesters, for example, polyalkylene terephthalates such as polyethylene terephthalate and polybutylene terephthalate, polyalkylene naphthalates corresponding to the polyalkylene terephthalates; copolyesters containing an alkylene terephthalate and/or alkylene naphthalate as a main component; homopolymers of lactones such as polycaprolactone), polyamide-series resin (e.g., nylon 6, nylon 66, nylon 610), urethane-series resins (e.g., thermoplastic polyurethane resins), copolymers of monomers forming the above resins [e.g., styrenic copolymers such as methyl methacrylate-styrene copolymer (MS resin), acrylonitrile-styrene copolymer (AS resin), styrene-(meth)acrylic acid copolymer, styrene-maleic anhydride copolymer and styrene-butadiene copolymer, vinyl acetate-vinyl chloride copolymer, vinyl alkyl ether-maleic anhydride copolymer]. Incidentally, the copolymer may be whichever of a random copolymer, a block copolymer, or a graft copolymer.
  • Lightguide Material Comprises Glass
  • In one embodiment, the coupling lightguides comprise a core material comprising an glass material. In one embodiment, the glass material is one selected from the group: fused silica, ultraviolet grade fused silica (such as JGSI by Dayoptics Inc., Suprasil® 1 and 2 by Heraeus Quartz America, LLC., Spectrosil® A and B by Saint-Ciobain Quartz PLC, and Corning 7940 by Corning Incorporated, Dynasil® Synthetic Fused Silica 1100 and 4100 by Dynasil Corporation), optical grade fused quartz, full spectrum fused silica, borosilicate glass, crown glass, and aluminoborosilicate glass.
  • In another embodiment, the core material comprises a glass which is coated, or has an organic material applied to at least one selected from the group: edge, top surface, and bottom surface. In one embodiment, the coating on the glass functions to at least one selected from the group: provide a cladding region, increase impact resistance, and provide increased flexibility. In another embodiment, the coupling lightguides comprising glass, a polymeric material, or a rubber material are heated to a temperature above their glass transition temperature or VICAT softening point before folding in a first direction.
  • Multilayer Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, the lightguide comprises at least two layers or coatings. In another embodiment, the layers or coatings function as at least one selected from the group: a core layer, a cladding layer, a tie layer (to promote adhesion between two other layers), a layer to increase flexural strength, a layer to increase the impact strength (such as Izod, Charpy, Gardner, for example), and a carrier layer. In a further embodiment, at least one layer or coating comprises a microstructure, surface relief pattern, light extraction features, lenses, or other non-flat surface features which redirect a portion of incident light from within the lightguide to an angle whereupon it escapes the lightguide in the region near the feature. For example, the carrier film may be a silicone film with embossed light extraction features disposed to receive a thermoset polycarbonate resin. In another embodiment, the carrier film is removed from contact with the core material in at least one region. For example, the carrier film may be an embossed FEP film and a thermoset methacrylate based resin is coated upon the film and cured by heat, light, other radiation, or a combination thereof. In another embodiment, the core material comprises a methacrylate material and the cladding comprises a silicone material. In another embodiment, a cladding material is coated onto a carrier film and subsequently, a core layer material, such as a silicone, a PC, or a PMMA based material, is coated or extruded onto the cladding material. In one embodiment, the cladding layer is too thin to support itself in a coating line and therefore a carrier film is used. The coating may have surface relief properties one the side opposite the carrier film, for example.
  • In one embodiment, the lightguide comprises a core material disposed between two cladding regions wherein the core region comprises a polymethyl methacrylate, polystyrene, or other amorphous polymer and the lightguide is bent at a first radius of curvature and the core region and cladding region are not fractured in the bend region, wherein the same core region comprising the same polymethyl methacrylate without the cladding regions or layers fractures more than 50% of the time when bent a the first radius of curvature. In another embodiment, a lightguide comprises substantially ductile polymer materials disposed on both sides of a substantially brittle material of a first thickness such as PMMA or polystyrene without impact modifiers and the polymer fracture toughness or the ASTM D4812 un-notched Izod impact strength of the lightguide is greater than a single layer of the brittle material of a first thickness.
  • Core Region Comprising a Thermoset Material
  • In one embodiment, a thermoset material is coated onto a thermoplastic film wherein the thermoset material is the core material and the cladding material is the thermoplastic film or material. In another embodiment, a first thermoset material is coated onto a film comprising a second thermoset material wherein the first thermoset material is the core material and the cladding material is the second thermoset plastic.
  • In one embodiment, an epoxy resin that has generally been used as a molding material may be used as the epoxy resin (A). Examples include epoxidation products of novolac resins derived from phenols and aldehydes, such as phenol novolac epoxy resins and ortho-cresol novolac epoxy resins; diglycidyl ethers of bisphenol A, bisphenol F, bisphenol S, alkyl-substituted bisphenol, or the like; glycidylamine epoxy resins obtained by the reaction of a polyamine such as diaminodiphenylmethane and isocyanuric acid with epichlorohydrin; linear aliphatic epoxy resins obtained by oxidation of olefin bonds with a peracid such as peracetic acid; and alicyclic epoxy resins. Any two or more of these resins may be used in combination. Examples of thermoset resins further include bisphenol A epoxy resins, bisphenol F epoxy resins, bisphenol S epoxy resins, diglycidyl isocyanurate, and triglycidyl isocyanurate, P(MMA-d8) material, fluorinated resin, deuterated polymer, poly(fluoroalkyl-MA), poly(deuterated fluoroalkyl-MA), trideutero hexafluorobutyl-pentadeutero methacylate, and triazine derived epoxy resin.
  • In another embodiment, the thermosetting resin is a thermosetting silicone resin. In a father embodiment, the thermosetting silicone resin composition comprises a condensation reactable substituent group-containing silicon compound and an addition reactable substituent group-containing silicon compound. In another embodiment, the thermosetting silicone resin composition comprises a dual-end silanol type silicone oil as the condensation reactable substituent group-containing silicon compound; an alkenyl group-containing silicon compound; an organohydrogensiloxane as the addition reactable substituent group-containing silicon compound; a condensation catalyst; and a hydrosilylation catalyst. In one embodiment, the thermosetting resin is a methylphenyl dimethyl copolymer or comprises a silicone based material such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,551,830. In another embodiment, the thermosetting resin comprises a polydiorganosiloxane having an average, per molecule, of at least two aliphatically unsaturated organic groups and at least one aromatic group; (B) a branched polyorganosiloxane having an average, per molecule, of at least one aliphatically unsaturated organic group and at least one aromatic group; (C) a polyorganohydrogensiloxane having an average per molecule of at least two silicon-bonded hydrogen atoms and at least one aromatic group, (D) a hydrosilylation catalyst, and (E) silylated acetylenic inhibitor. In another embodiment, the thermosetting comprises a silicone, polysiloxane, or silsesquioxane material such as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 12/085,422 and 11/884,612.
  • In a further embodiment, the thermosetting material comprises: a liquid crystalline thermoset oligomer containing at least aromatic or alicyclic structural unit with a kink structure in the backbone and having one or two thermally crosslinkable reactive groups introduced at one or both ends of the backbone; either a crosslinking agent having thermally crosslinkable reactive groups at both ends thereof or an epoxy compound or both; and an organic solvent. In a further embodiment, the thermosetting composition comprises at least one selected from the group: an aluminosiloxane, a silicone oil containing silanol groups at both ends, an epoxy silicone, and a silicone elastomer. In this thermosetting composition, it is considered that each of hydroxyl groups of the aluminosiloxane and/or the silicone oil containing silanol groups at both ends, and a highly reactive epoxy group of the epoxy silicone are reacted and cross-linked, at the same time the silicone elastomer is cross-linked by a hydrosilylation reaction therewith. In another embodiment, the thermoset is a photopolymerizable composition. In another embodiment, the photopolymerizable composition comprises: a silicon-containing resin comprising silicon-bonded hydrogen and aliphatic unsaturation, a first metal-containing catalyst that may be activated by actinic radiation, and a second metal-containing catalyst that may be activated by heat but not the actinic radiation.
  • In another embodiment, the thermosetting resin comprises a silsesquioxane derivative or a Q-containing silicone. In another embodiment, the thermosetting resin is a resin with substantially high transmission such as those disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 12/679,749, 12/597,531, 12/489,881, 12/637,359, 12/637,359, 12/549,956, 12/759,293, 12/553,227, 11/137,358, 11/391,021, and 11/551,323.
  • In a further embodiment, the lightguide comprises a thermoset resin that is coated onto an element of the light emitting device (such as a carrier film with a coating, an optical film, the rear polarizer in an LCD, a brightness enhancing film, a thermal transfer element such as a thin sheet comprising aluminum, or a white reflector film) and subsequently cured or thermoset.
  • Lightguide Material with Adhesive Properties
  • In another embodiment, the lightguide comprises a material with at least one selected from the group: chemical adhesion, dispersive adhesion, electrostatic adhesion, diffusive adhesion, and mechanical adhesion to at least one element of the light emitting device (such as a carrier film with a coating, an optical film, the rear polarizer in an LCD, a brightness enhancing film, another region of the lightguide, a coupling lightguide, a thermal transfer element such as a thin sheet comprising aluminum, or a white reflector film). In a further embodiment, at least one of the core material or cladding material of the lightguide is an adhesive material. In a further embodiment, at least one selected from the group: core material, cladding material, and material disposed on a cladding material of the lightguide is at least one selected from the group: pressure sensitive adhesive, contact adhesive, hot adhesive, drying adhesive, multi-part reactive adhesive, one-part reactive adhesive, natural adhesive, and synthetic adhesive. In a further embodiment, the first core material of a first coupling lightguide is adhered to the second core material of a second coupling lightguide due to the adhesion properties of the first core material, second core material, or a combination thereof. In one embodiment, the core layer is an adhesive and is coated onto at least one selected from the group: cladding layer, removable support layer, protective film, second adhesive layer, polymer film, metal film, second core layer, low contact area cover, and planarization layer. In another embodiment, the cladding material of a first coupling lightguide is adhered to the core material of a second coupling lightguide due to the adhesion properties of the cladding material. In another embodiment, the first cladding material of a first coupling lightguide is adhered to the second cladding material of a second coupling lightguide due to the adhesion properties of the first cladding material, second cladding material, or a combination thereof. In another embodiment, the cladding material or core material has adhesive properties and has an ASTM D3330 Peel strength greater than one selected from the group: 929, 17.858, 35.716, 53.574, 71.432, 89, 29, 107.148, 125.006, 142.864, 160.722, 178.580 kilograms per meter of bond width when adhered to an element of the light emitting device, such as for example without limitation, a cladding layer, a core layer, a low contact area cover, a circuit board, or a housing.
  • In another embodiment, a tie layer, primer, or coating is used to promote adhesion between at least one selected from the group: core material and cladding material, lightguide and housing, core material and element of the light emitting device, cladding material and element of the light emitting device. In one embodiment, the tie layer or coating comprises a dimethyl silicone or variant thereof and a solvent, hu another embodiment, the tie layer comprises a phenyl based primer such as those used to bridge phenylsilaxane-based silicones with substrate materials. In another embodiment, the tie layer comprises a platinum-catalyzed, addition-cure silicone primer such as those used to bond plastic film substrates and silicone pressure sensitive adhesives.
  • In a further embodiment, at least one region of the core material or cladding material has adhesive properties and is optical coupled to a second region of the core or cladding material such that the ASTM D1003 luminous transmittance of visible light through the interface is at least one selected from the group: 1%, 2%, 3%, and 4% greater than the transmission through the same two material at the same region with an air gap disposed between them.
  • Outermost Surface of the Film or Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, the outermost surface of the film, lightguide or lightguide region comprises at least one selected from the group: cladding, surface texture to simulate a soft feel or match the surface texture of cloth or upholstery, a refractive element to collimate light from the light extraction features (such as microlens array), an adhesive layer, a removable backing material, an anti-reflection coating, an anti-glare surface, and a rubber surface.
  • Light Extraction Method
  • In one embodiment, at least one of the lightguide, lightguide region, or light emitting region comprises at least one light extraction feature or region. In one embodiment, the light extraction region may be a raised or recessed surface pattern or a volumetric region. Raised and recessed surface patterns include scattering material, raised lenses, scattering surfaces, pits, grooves, surface modulations, microlenses, lenses, diffractive surface features, holographic surface features, wavelength conversion materials, holes, edges of layers (such as regions where the cladding is removed from covering the core layer), pyramid shapes, prism shapes, and other geometrical shapes with flat surfaces, curved surfaces, random surfaces, quasi-random surfaces or a combination thereof. The volumetric scattering regions within the light extraction region may comprise dispersed phase domains, voids, absence of other materials or regions (gaps, holes), air gaps, boundaries between layers and regions, and other refractive index discontinuities within the volume of the material different that co-planar layers with parallel interfacial surfaces. In one embodiment, the light extracting region comprises angled or curved surface or volumetric light extracting features that redirect a first redirection percentage of light into an angular range within 5 degrees of the normal to the light emitting surface of the light emitting device. In another embodiment, the first redirection percentage is greater than one selected from the group: 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90. In one embodiment, the light extraction features are light redirecting features, light extracting regions or light output coupling features.
  • In one embodiment, the lightguide or lightguide region comprises light extraction features in a plurality of regions. In one embodiment, the lightguide or lightguide region comprises light extraction features on or within at least one selected from the group: one outer surface, two outer surfaces, two outer and opposite surfaces, an outer surface and at least one region disposed between the two outer surfaces, within two different volumetric regions substantially within two different volumetric planes parallel to at least one outer surface or light emitting surface or plane, and within a plurality of volumetric planes. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light emitting region on the lightguide region of a lightguide comprising more than one region of light extraction features,
  • In another embodiment, one or more light extraction features are disposed on top of another light extraction feature. For example, grooved light extraction features could comprise light scattering hollow microspheres which may increase the amount of light extracted from the lightguide or which could further scatter or redirect the light that is extracted by the grooves. More than one type of light extraction feature may be used on the surface, within the volume of a lightguide or lightguide region, or a combination thereof.
  • In a further embodiment, the light extraction features are grooves, indentations, curved, or angled features that redirect a portion of light incident in a first direction to a second direction within the same plane through total internal reflection. In another embodiment, the light extraction features redirect a first portion of light incident at a first angle into a second angle greater than the critical angle in a first output plane and increase the angular full width at half maximum intensity in a second output plane orthogonal to the first. In a further embodiment, the light extraction feature is a region comprising a groove, indentation, curved or angled feature and further comprises a substantially symmetric or isotropic light scattering region of material such as dispersed voids, beads, microspheres, substantially spherical domains, or a collection of randomly shaped domains wherein the average scattering profile is substantially symmetric or isotropic. In a further embodiment, the light extraction feature is a region comprising a groove, indentation, curved or angled feature and further comprises a substantially anisotropic or asymmetric light scattering region of material such as dispersed elongated voids, stretched beads, asymmetrically shaped ellipsoidal particles, fibers, or a collection of shaped domains wherein the average scattering is profile is substantially asymmetric or anisotropic. In one embodiment, the Bidirectional Scattering Distribution Function (BsDr) of the light extraction feature is controlled to create a predetermined light output profile of the light emitting device or light input profile to a light redirecting element.
  • In one embodiment, at least one light extraction feature is an array, pattern or arrangement of a wavelength conversion material selected from the group: a fluorophore, phosphor, a fluorescent dye, an inorganic phosphor, photonic handgap material, a quantum dot material, a fluorescent protein, a fusion protein, a fluorophores attached to protein to specific functional groups, quantum dot fluorophores, small molecule fluorophores, aromatic fluorophores, conjugated fluorophores, and a fluorescent dye scintillators, phosphors such as Cadmium sulfide, rare-earth doped phosphor, and other known wavelength conversion materials.
  • In one embodiment, the light extraction feature is a specularly, diffusive, or a combination thereof reflective material. For example, the light extraction feature may be a substantially specularly reflecting ink disposed at an angle (such as coated onto a groove) or it may be a substantially diffusely reflective ink such as an ink comprising titanium dioxide particles within a methacrylate-based binder (white paint). Alternatively, the light extraction feature may be a partially diffusively reflecting ink such as an ink with small silver particles (micron or sub-micron, spherical or non-spherical, plate-like shaped or non-plate-like shaped, or silver (or aluminum) coated onto flakes) further comprising titanium dioxide particles. In another embodiment, the degree of diffusive reflection is controlled to optimize at least one selected from the group: the angular output of the device, the degree of collimation of the light output, and the percentage of light extracted from the region.
  • The pattern or arrangement of light extraction features may vary in size, shape, pitch, location, height, width, depth, shape, orientation, in the x, y, or z directions. Patterns and formulas or equations to assist in the determination of the arrangement to achieve spatial luminance or color uniformity are known in the art of edge-illuminated backlights. In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a film-based lightguide comprising light extraction features disposed beneath lenticules wherein the light extraction features are substantially arranged in the form of dashed lines beneath the lenticules such that the light extracted from the line features has a lower angular FHWM intensity after redirection from the lenticular lens array light redirecting element and the length of the dashes varies to assist with the uniformity of light extraction. In another embodiment, the dashed line pattern of the light extraction features varies in the x and y directions (where the z direction is the optical axis of the light emitting device). Similarly, a two-dimensional microlens array film (close-packed or regular array) or an arrangement of microlenses may be used as a light redirecting element and the light extraction features may comprise a regular, irregular, or other arrangement of circles, ellipsoidal shapes, or other pattern or shape that may vary in size, shape, or position in the x direction, y direction, or a combination thereof.
  • Visibility of Light Extraction Features
  • In one embodiment, at least one light extraction region comprises light extraction features which have a low visibility to the viewer when the region is not illuminated by light from within the lightguide (such as when the device is in the off-state or the particular lightguide in a multi-lightguide device is not illuminated). In one embodiment, the luminance at a first measurement angle of at least one selected from the group: lightguide region, square centimeter measurement area of the light emitting surface corresponding to light redirected by at least one light extraction feature, light emitting region, light extraction feature, and light extracting surface feature or collection of light extraction features is less than one selected from the group: 0.5 cd/m2, 1 cd/m2, 5 cd/m2, 10 cd/m2, 50 cd/m2, and 100 cd/m2 when exposed to diffuse illuminance from an integrating sphere of one selected from the group: 10 lux, 50 lux, 75 lux, 100 lux, 200 lux, 300 lux, 400 lux, 500 lux, 750 lux, and 1000 lux when place over a black, light absorbing surface. Examples of a light absorbing surface include, without limitation, a black velour cloth material, black anodized aluminum, material with a diffuse reflectance (specular component included) less than 5%, Light Absorbing Black-Out
  • Material from Edmund Optics Inc., and a window to a light trap box (box with light absorbing black velour lining the walls). In one embodiment, the first measurement angle for the luminance is one selected from the group: 0 degrees, 5 degrees, 8 degrees, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees, 0-10 degrees, 0-20 degrees, 0-30 degrees, and 0-40 degrees from the normal to the surface. In one embodiment, the luminance of the light emitted from a 1 cm2 measurement area of the light emitting surface corresponding to light redirected by at least one light extracting feature is less than 100 cd/m2 when exposed to a diffuse illuminance of 200 lux from an integrating sphere when placed over Light Absorbing Black-Out Material from Edmund Optics Inc. In another embodiment, the luminance of the light emitted from a 1 cm2 measurement area of the light emitting surface corresponding to light redirected by at least one light extracting feature is less than 50 cd/m2 when exposed to a diffuse illuminance of 200 lux from an integrating sphere when placed over Light Absorbing Black-Out Material from Edmund Optics Inc. In another embodiment, the luminance of the light emitted from a 1 cm2 measurement area of the light emitting surface corresponding to light redirected by at least one or an average of all light extracting features is less than 25 cd/m2 when exposed to a diffuse illuminance of 200 lux from an integrating sphere when placed over Light Absorbing Black-Out Material from Edmund Optics Inc. in one embodiment, the thin lightguide film permits smaller features to be used for light extraction features or light extracting surface features to be spaced further apart due to the thinness of the lightguide. In one embodiment, the average largest dimensional size of the light extracting surface features in the plane parallel to the light emitting surface corresponding to a light emitting region of the light emitting device is less than one selected from the group: 3 mm, 2 mm, 1 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.80 mm, 0.050 mm, 0040 mm, 0.025 mm, and 0.010 mm.
  • In one embodiment, the individual light extracting surface features, regions or pixels are discernible as an individual pixel when the device is emitting light in an on state and is not readily discernible when the light emitting device is in the off state when viewed at a distance greater than one selected from the group: 10 centimeters, 20 centimeters, 30 centimeters, 40 centimeters, 50 centimeters, 100 centimeters, and 200 centimeters. In this embodiment, the area may appear to be emitting light, but the individual pixels or sub-pixels cannot be readily discerned from one another. In another embodiment, the intensity or color of a light emitting region of the light emitting device is controlled by spatial or temporal dithering or halftone printing. In one embodiment, the average size of the light extracting regions in a square centimeter of a light emitting region on the outer surface of the light emitting device is less than 500 microns and the color and/or luminance is varied by increasing or decreasing the number of light extracting regions within a predetermined area.
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device is a sign with a light emitting surface comprising at least one selected from the group: light emitting regions, light extracting regions, and light extraction feature which is not readily discernible by a person with a visual acuity between 0.5 and 1.5 arcminutes at a distance of 20 cm when illuminated with 200 lux of diffuse light in front of Light Absorbing Black-Out Material from Edmund Optics Inc.
  • In another embodiment, the fill factor of the light extracting features, defined as the percentage of the surface area comprising light extracting features in a light emitting region, surface or layer of the lightguide or film, is one selected from the group: less than 80%, less than 70%, less than 60%, less than 50%, less than 40%, less than 30%, less than 20%, and less than 10%. The fill factor can be measured within a full light emitting square centimeter surface region or area of the lightguide or film (bounded by regions all directions within the plane of the lightguide which emit light) or it may be the average of the light emitting areas of the lightguides. The fill factor may be measured when the light emitting device is in the on state or in the of state (not emitting light).
  • In another embodiment, the light emitting device is a sign with a light emitting surface comprising light emitting regions wherein when the device is not emitting light, the angle subtended by two neighboring light extracting features that are visible when the device is on, at a distance of 20 cm is less than one selected from the group: 0.001 degrees, 0.002 degrees, 0.004 degrees, 0.008 degrees, 0.010 degrees, 0.015 degrees, 0.0167 degrees, 0.02 degrees, 0.05 degrees, 0.08 degrees, 0.1 degrees, 0.16 degrees, 0.2 degrees, 0.3 degrees, 0.4 degrees, 0.5 degrees, 0.6 degrees, 0.7 degrees, 0.8 degrees, 1 degree, 2 degrees, and 5 degrees. In another embodiment, the light emitting device is a sign with a light emitting surface comprising light emitting regions wherein when the device is not emitting light, the angle subtended by two neighboring light extracting features (that are which are not easily visible when the device is off when illuminated with 200 lux of diffuse light) at a distance of 20 cm is less than one selected from the group: 0.3 degrees, 0.4 degrees, 0.5 degrees, 0.6 degrees, 0.7 degrees, 0.8 degrees, I degree, 2 degrees, and 5 degrees.
  • In a further embodiment, the light extraction features of the light emitting device comprise light scattering domains of a material with a different refractive index than the surrounding material. In one embodiment, the light scattering domain has a concentration within the continuous region having light scattering domains (such as an inkjet deposited white ink pixel) less than one selected from the group: 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 3%, 1%, 0.5%, and 0.1% by volume or weight. The concentration or thickness of the light scattering domains may vary in the x, y, or z directions and the pixel or region may be overprinted to increase the thickness. In another embodiment, the light extracting features have a light absorbing region disposed between the light extracting feature and at least one output surface of the light emitting device. For example, the light extracting features could be titanium dioxide based white inkjet deposited pixels deposited on a lightguide and the light absorbing ink (such as a black dye or ink comprising carbon black particles) is deposited on top of the white ink such that 50% of the light scattered from the white pixel is transmitted through the light absorbing ink. In this example, the ambient light that would have reflected from the white ink if there were no light absorbing ink is reduced by 75% (twice passing through the 50% absorbing ink) and the visibility of the dots is reduced while sufficient tight from the lightguide is emitted from the light emitting device in the region near the white pixel. In another embodiment, a low light transmission light absorbing material absorbing at least one selected from the group: 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, and 70% of the light emitted from a first light extracting feature is disposed between the light extracting feature and at least one outer surface of the light emitting device.
  • Multiple Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises more than one lightguide to provide at least one selected from the group: color sequential display, localized dimming backlight, red, green, and blue lightguides, animation effects, multiple messages of different colors, NVIS and daylight mode backlight (one lightguide for NVIS, one lightguide for daylight for example), tiled lightguides or backlights, and large area light emitting devices comprised of smaller light emitting devices. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a plurality of lightguides optically coupled to each other. In another embodiment, at least one lightguide or a component thereof comprises a region with anti-blocking features such that the lightguides do not substantially couple light directly into each other due to touching. In some embodiments, the need for a cladding can be reduced or alleviated by using anti-blocking materials to maintain separation (and air gap) over regions of the lightguide surfaces. In another embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a first and second light emitting region disposed to receive light from a first and second group of coupling lightguides, respectively, wherein the bends or folds in the first group of coupling lightguides are at angle selected from the group: 10 to 30 degrees, 25 degrees to 65 degrees, 70 to 110 degrees, 115 degrees to 155 degrees, 160 degrees to 180 degrees, and 5 to 180 degrees from the bends or folds in the second group of coupling lightguides.
  • In another embodiment, a film-based lightguide has two separate light emitting regions with a first and second group of coupling lightguides disposed to couple light into the first light emitting region and second light emitting region, respectively, wherein the first and second groups of coupling lightguides fold or bend to create a single light input coupler disposed to couple light from a single source or source package into both light emitting regions. In a further embodiment, the two separate light emitting regions are separated by a separation distance (SD) greater than one selected from the group: 0.1 millimeters, 0.5 millimeters, 1 millimeter, 5 millimeters, 10 millimeters, 1 centimeter, 5 centimeters, 10 centimeters, 50 centimeters, 1 meter, 5 meters, 10 meters, the width of a coupling lightguide, the width of a fold region, a dimension of the first light emitting region surface area, and a dimension of the second light emitting region surface area.
  • In another embodiment, two film-based lightguides are disposed above one another in at least one selected from the group: lightguide region, light output region, light input coupler, light input surface, and light input edge such that light from a light source, a package of light sources, an array of light sources, or an arrangement of light sources is directed into more than one film-based lightguide.
  • In a further embodiment, a plurality of lightguides are disposed substantially parallel to each other proximate a first light emitting region and the lightguides emit light of a first and second color. The colors may be the same or different and provide additive color, additive luminance, white light emitting lightguides, red, green, and blue light emitting lightguides or other colors or combinations of lightguides emitting light near the same, adjacent or other corresponding light emitting regions or light extraction features. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first lightguide and a second lightguide wherein a region of the second lightguide is disposed beneath first lightguide in a direction parallel to the optical axis of the light emitting device or parallel to the normal to the light emitting surface of the device and at least one coupling lightguide from the first light lightguide is interleaved between at least two coupling lightguides from the second lightguide. In a further embodiment, the coupling lightguides from the first lightguide film are interleaved with the coupling lightguides of the second lightguide region. For example, two film-based lightguides with coupling lightguide strips oriented parallel to each other along one edge may be folded together to form a single light input surface wherein the light input edges forming the light input surface alternate between the lightguides. Similarly, three or more lightguides with light input edges 1, 2, and 3 may be collected through folding into a light input surface with alternating input edges in a 1-2-3-1-2-3-123 . . . pattern along a light input surface.
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first lightguide and a second lightguide wherein a region of the second lightguide is disposed beneath first lightguide in a direction parallel to the optical axis of the light emitting device or parallel to the normal to the light emitting surface of the device and a first set of the coupling lightguides disposed to couple light into the first lightguide form a first light input surface and are disposed adjacent a second set of coupling lightguides disposed to couple light into the second lightguide. The first and second set of lightguides may be in the same light input coupler or different light input coupler disposed adjacent each other and they may be disposed to receive light from the same light source, a collection of light sources, different light sources, or different collections of light sources.
  • Multiple Lightguides to Reduce Bend Loss
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first lightguide and a second lightguide wherein a first overlapping region of the second lightguide is disposed beneath first lightguide in a direction parallel to the optical axis of the light emitting device or parallel to the normal to the light emitting surface of the device and the first and second set of coupling lightguides disposed to couple light into the first and second lightguides, respectively, have a total bend loss less than that of a set of coupling lightguides optically coupled to a lightguide covering the same input dimension of each first and second coupling lightguide with the same radius of curvature as the average of the first and second set of coupling lightguides and a core thickness equal to the total core thicknesses of the first and second lightguides in the first overlapping region.
  • In a further embodiment, multiple lightguides are stacked such that light output from one lightguide passes through at least one region of another lightguide and the radii of curvature for a fixed bend loss (per coupling lightguide or total loss) is less than that of a single lightguide with the same light emitting area, same radius of curvature; and the thickness of the combined lightguides. For example, for a bend loss of 70%, a first lightguide of a first thickness may be limited to a first radius of curvature. By using a second and third lightguide with each at half the thickness of the first lightguide, the radius of curvature of each of the second and third lightguides can be less to maintain only 70% bend loss due to the reduced thickness of each lightguide. In one embodiment, multiple thin lightguides, each with a radius of curvature less than a thicker lightguide with the same bend loss, reduce the volume and form factor of the light emitting device. The light input surfaces of the coupling lightguides from the different lightguides may be disposed adjacent each other in a first direction, on different sides of the light emitting device, within the same light input coupler, within different light input couplers, underneath each other, alongside each other, or disposed to receive light from the same or different light sources.
  • Multiple Lightguides Connected by Coupling Lightguides
  • In one embodiment, two or more lightguides are optically coupled together by a plurality of coupling lightguides. In one embodiment a film comprises a first continuous lightguide region and strip-like sections cut in a region disposed between the first continuous lightguide region and a second continuous lightguide region. In one embodiment, the strips are cut and the first and second continuous lightguide regions are translated relative to each other such that the strips (coupling lightguides in this embodiment) are folding and overlapping. The resulting first and second lightguide regions may be separate regions such as a keypad illuminator and an LCD backlight for a cellphone which are connected by the coupling lightguides. The first and second lightguide regions may also both intersect a light normal to the film surface in one or more regions such that the first and second lightguide regions at least partially overlap. The first and second lightguide regions may have at least one light input coupler. By coupling the first and second lightguide regions together through the use of coupling lightguides, the light from an input coupler coupled into the first lightguide region is not lost, coupled out of, or absorbed when it reaches the end of the first lightguide region and may further propagate to the second lightguide region. This can allow more light extraction regions for a specific region since the lightguides overlap in a region. In one embodiment, at least one region disposed to receive light between the first and second lightguide regions may comprise a light absorbing filter such that the light reaching the second lightguide region comprises a different wavelength spectral profile and a second color can be extracted from the second lightguide region different to the first color extracted from the first lightguide extracting region. More than two lightguide regions illuminated by a first input coupler with one, two, or more than two light emitting colors may be used and separate lightguides (or lightguide regions) with separate light input couplers may be disposed behind, between, or above one or more of the lightguide regions illuminated by the first input coupler. For example, a first light input coupler directs white light from an LED into the first lightguide region wherein the light extracting regions extract light creating a first white image, and the light which is not extracted passes into coupling lightguides on the opposite end which have a striped region optically coupled to the lightguide (such as an red colored ink stripe) which substantially absorbs the non-red portions of the spectrum. This light further propagates into the second lightguide region where a portion of the light is extracted out of the lightguide as red light in a red image. Similarly, other colors including subtractive colors may be used to create multiple-colors of light emitting from multiple lightguide regions and the light extracting region may overlap to create additive color mixing. Two or more lightguides or lightguide regions may overlap wherein the optical axes of the light propagating within the lightguide are at approximately 90 degrees to each other.
  • Lightguide Folding Around Components
  • In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: lightguide, lightguide region, light mixing region, plurality of lightguides, coupling lightguides, and light input coupler bends or folds such that other components of the light emitting device are hidden from view, located behind another component or the light emitting region, or are partially or fully enclosed. These components around which they may bend or fold include components of the light emitting device such as light source, electronics, driver, circuit board, thermal transfer element, spatial light modulator, display, housing, holder, or other components are disposed behind the folded or bent lightguide or other region or component. In one embodiment, a frontlight for a reflective display comprises a lightguide, coupling lightguides and a light source wherein one or more regions of the lightguide are folded and the light source is disposed substantially behind the display.
  • Curled Edge of Lightguide to Recycle Light
  • In one embodiment, a lightguide edge region is curled back upon itself and optically coupled to a region of the lightguide such that light propagating toward the edge will follow the curl and propagate back into the lightguide. In one embodiment, the cladding area is removed from the lightguide from both surfaces which are to be optically coupled or bonded together. More than one edge may be curled or bent back upon itself to recycle light back into the lightguide.
  • Registration Holes and Cavities
  • One embodiment, at least one selected from the group: lightguide, lightguide region, light mixing region, light input coupler, housing, holding device and plurality of coupling lightguides comprises at least one opening or aperture suitable for registration with another component of the device that contains at least one pin or object which may pass through the at least one opening or aperture. In another embodiment, one or more of the light turning optical element, coupling lightguides, light redirecting optical element, light coupling optical element, relative position maintaining optical element, circuit board, flexible connector, film based touchscreen, film-based lightguide, and display film substrate comprises a registration opening, aperture, hole, or cavity.
  • Alignment Guide
  • In another embodiment, the light turning optical element has an alignment guide physically coupled to the light turning optical element such that the guide directs the coupling lightguide input surfaces to align in at least one of the following directions: a direction perpendicular to the film surface of the coupling lightguides, a direction parallel to the coupling lightguide film surfaces, a direction parallel to the optical axis of the light source, and a direction orthogonal to the optical axis of the light source. In one embodiment, the alignment guide is physically coupled to one or more the following: the light turning optical element, coupling lightguides, light redirecting optical element, light coupling optical element, relative position maintaining optical element, circuit board, light source, light source housing, optical element holder or housing, input coupler housing, alignment mechanism, heat sink for the light source, flexible connector, film-based touchscreen, film-based lightguide, and display film substrate. In one embodiment, the alignment guide comprises an alignment arm such as a metal or plastic bar or rod with a flexural modulus of one of the following: 2 times, 3 times, 4 times, and 5 times that of the stacked array of coupling lightguides that it is disposed to guide a stack of coupling lightguides (or an optical element) in a predetermined direction. The alignment guide may have one or more curved regions to assist in the guiding function without scratching or damaging the coupling lightguide through sharp edges. In another embodiment, the alignment guide is a cantilever spring that can apply a force against one or more coupling lightguides to maintain the position of the coupling lightguide temporarily or permanently. In another embodiment, the alignment guide maintains the relative position of the coupling lightguide near the light input surface while an additional, permanent relative position method is employed (such as mechanically clamping, adhering using adhesives, epoxy or optical adhesive, forming a housing around the coupling lightguides, or inserting the coupling into a housing) which substantially maintains the relative position of the coupling lightguides to the light source or light input coupler. In another embodiment, a cladding layer (such as a low refractive index adhesive) is disposed on one or more of the following: the top surface, bottom surface, lateral edges, and light input surface of an array of coupling lightguides such that when the alignment guide is thermally coupled to the array of coupling lightguides, less light is absorbed by the alignment guide.
  • Alignment Cavity within the Alignment Guide
  • In one embodiment, the alignment guide comprises a cavity within a mechanical coupler in which a stacked array of coupling lightguides may be disposed to align their light input edges to receive light from a light source. In one embodiment, the alignment guide comprises a thermal transfer element with an extended arm or rod to align the coupling lightguides in one dimension, apply force vertical force to the coupling lightguides to assist holding them at the correct lateral position and a cavity into which the input surface of the coupling lightguides may be placed such that they are aligned to receive light from the light source. In another embodiment, the alignment guide comprises a thermal transfer element with an extended arm (functioning as a cantilever spring to apply force) and a cavity with a cross sectional vertical and width dimension at least as large as the vertical and width dimensions, respectively, of the cross-section of the stacked array of coupling lightguides near their light input surfaces.
  • Thermally Conductive Alignment Guide
  • In another embodiment, the alignment guide is thermally and physically coupled to the heat sink for the light source. For example, the alignment guide may comprise an aluminum heat sink disposed around and thermally coupled to the light source with an alignment cavity opening disposed to receive the coupling lightguide such that they are held within the cavity. In this embodiment, the aluminum heat sink serves an alignment function and also reduces the heat load from the light source. In another embodiment, the alignment guide comprises an alignment cavity in a thermally conducting material (such as a metal, aluminum, copper, thermally conductive polymer, or a compound comprising thermally conductive materials) thermally coupled to the coupling lightguides such that the alignment guide removes heat from the coupling lightguides received from the light source. When using high power LEDs, for example, the heat from the light source could potentially damage or cause problems with the coupling lightguides (softening, thermal or optical degradation, etc.). By removing the heat from the coupling lightguides, this effect is reduced or eliminated. In one embodiment, the alignment guide is thermally coupled to one or more coupling lightguides by physical contact or through the use of an intermediate thermally conductive material such as a thermally conductive adhesive or grease.
  • Other Components
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises at least one selected from the group: power supply, batteries (which may be aligned for a low profile or low volume device), thermal transfer element (such as a heat sink, heat pipe, or stamped sheet metal heat sink), frame, housing, heat sink extruded and aligned such that it extends parallel to at least one side of the lightguide, multiple folding or holding modules along a thermal transfer element or heat sink, thermal transfer element exposed to thermally couple heat to a surface external to the light emitting device, and solar cell capable of providing power, communication electronics (such as needed to control tight sources, color output, input information, remote communication, Wi-Fi control, Bluetooth control, wireless internet control, etc.), a magnet for temporarily affixing the light emitting device to a ferrous or suitable metallic surface, motion sensor, proximity sensor, forward and backwards oriented motion sensors, optical feedback sensor (including photodiodes or LEDs employed in reverse as detectors), controlling mechanisms such as switches, dials, keypads (for functions such as on/off, brightness, color, color temp, presets (for color, brightness, color temp, etc.), wireless control), externally triggered switches (door closing switch for example), synchronized switches, and light blocking elements to block external light from reaching the lightguide or lightguide region or to block light emitted from a region of the light emitting device from being seen by a viewer.
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a first set of light sources comprising a first and second light source disposed to couple light into a first and second light input coupler, respectively, and further comprising a second set of light sources comprising a third and fourth light source disposed to couple light into a first and second light input coupler, respectively, wherein the first set of light sources are thermally coupled to each other and the second set of light sources are thermally coupled to each other by means of one selected from the group metal core printed circuit board, aluminum component, copper component, metal alloy component, thermal transfer element, or other thermally conducting element. In a further embodiment, the first and second set of light sources are substantially thermally isolated by separating the light sources (or substrates for the light sources such as a PCB) in the region proximate the light sources by an air gap or substantially thermally insulating material such as polymer substantially free of metallic, ceramic, or thermally conducting components. In another embodiment, the first and third light sources are disposed closer to each other than the first and second light sources and more heat from the first light source reaches the second light source than reaches the third light source when only the first light source is emitting light. More than two light sources disposed to couple light into more than two coupling lightguides may be thermally coupled together by a thermal transfer element and may be separated from a second set of more than two light sources by an air gap or thermally insulating material.
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a film lightguide that emits light and also detects light changes within the lightguide and provides touch screen functionality. In one embodiment, a film lightguide comprises coupling lightguides disposed to receive light from a light source and direct the light into a lightguide to provide a backlight or frontlight and at least one coupling lightguide disposed to detect changes in light intensity (such as lower light levels due to light being frustrated and absorbed by coupling light into a finger in touched location). More than one light intensity detecting lightguide may be used. Other configurations for optical lightguide based touch screens are known in the art and may be used in conjunction with embodiments.
  • In another embodiment a touchscreen comprises at least two film lightguides. In another embodiment, a touchscreen device comprises a light input coupler used in reverse to couple light from a film lightguide into a detector. In another embodiment, the light emitting device or touch screen is sensitive to pressure in that when a first film or first lightguide is pressed or pressure is applied, the first film is moved into sufficient optical contact with a second film or second lightguide wherein at least one of light from the first lightguide or first lightguide is coupled into is coupled into the second film or second lightguide, light from the second film or second lightguide is coupled into the first film or first lightguide, or light couples from each lightguide or film into the other.
  • Thermal Transfer Element Coupled to Coupling Lightguide
  • In another embodiment, a thermal transfer element is thermally coupled to a cladding region, lightguide region, lightguide, coupling lightguide, stack or arrangement of coupling lightguides, combination of folded regions in a coupling lightguide, input coupler, window or housing component of the light input coupler, or housing. In another embodiment, the thermal transfer element is thermally coupled to the coupling lightguides or folded regions of a coupling lightguide to draw heat away from the polymer based lightguide film in that region such that a high power LED or other light source emitting heat toward the lightguides may be used with reduced thermal damage to the polymer. In another embodiment, a thermal transfer element is physically and thermally coupled to the cladding region of the light input couplers or folded regions of a coupling lightguide. The thermal transfer element may also serve to absorb light in one more cladding regions by using a thermal transfer element that is black or absorbs a significant amount of light (such as having a diffuse reflectance spectral component included less than 50%). In another embodiment, the top surface of the upper coupling lightguide and the bottom surface of the bottom coupling lightguide comprise cladding regions in the regions of the coupling lightguides or folded regions of the coupling lightguide near the light input edges. By removing (or not applying or disposing) the cladding between the coupling lightguides or folded regions, more light can be coupled into the coupling lightguides or folded regions from the light source. Outer cladding layers or regions may be disposed on the outer surfaces to prevent light absorption from contact with other elements or the housing, or it may be employed on the top or bottom surface, for example, to physically and thermally couple the cladding region to a thermal transfer element to couple the heat out without absorbing light from the core region (and possibly absorbing light within the core region).
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a thermal transfer element disposed to receive heat from at least one light source wherein the thermal transfer element has at least one selected from the group: total thickness, average total thickness, and average thickness, all in the direction perpendicular to the light emitting device light emitting surface less than one selected from the group: 10 millimeters, 5 millimeters, 4 millimeters, 3 millimeters, 2 millimeters, 1 millimeter, and 0.5 millimeters. In one embodiment, the thermal transfer element comprises a sheet or plate of metal disposed on the opposite side of the lightguide as the light emitting surface of the light emitting device. In a further embodiment, a low thermal conductivity component is disposed between the thermal transfer element and the lightguide. In another embodiment, the low thermal conductivity component has a thermal conductivity, k, less than one selected from the group: 0.6, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, 0.2, 0.1 and 0.05 W·m−1·K−1 at a temperature of 296 degrees Kelvin. In a further embodiment, the low thermal conductivity component is a white reflective polyester based film (or PIPE based film), in a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a low thermal conductivity component physically coupled to the thermal transfer element and the light emitting device further comprises at least one selected from the group: low refractive index material, cladding region, and a region with an air gap disposed between the low thermal conductivity component and the lightguide.
  • In a further embodiment, the thermal transfer element is an elongated component with a dimension in first direction at least twice as long as the dimension in either mutually orthogonal direction orthogonal to the first direction wherein a portion of the thermal transfer element is disposed within the bend region of at least one light input coupler. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light input coupler wherein a portion of the smallest rectangular cuboid comprising all of the coupling lightguides within the light input coupler comprises a thermal transfer element. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light input coupler wherein a portion of the smallest rectangular cuboid comprising all of the coupling lightguides within the light input coupler comprises an elongated thermal transfer element selected from the group: pipe from a heat pipe, elongated heat sink, metal thermal transfer element with fins, rod inside the thermal transfer element, and metal frame.
  • In another embodiment, the thermal transfer element comprises at least one metal frame component or elongated metal component that provides at least one selected from the group: increased rigidity, frame support for suspension or mounting, protection from accidental contact, and frame support for a fiat or predefined non-planar surface. In a further embodiment, the thermal transfer element comprises at least two regions or surfaces oriented at an angle with respect to each other or an opening through the volume that form at least a portion of a channel through which air may flow through. In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a plurality of air channels formed by at least one surface of the thermal element through which air flows and convects heat away by active or passive air convection from the source generating the heat (such as a light source or a processor). In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a plurality of air channels along vertically oriented sides of the device through which air flows and convects heat through (naturally or forced air). In another embodiment, the thermal transfer element has a thermal conductivity greater than one selected from group of 0.5, 0, 7, 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 800, and 1000 W·m−1·K−1 at a temperature of 296 degrees Kelvin.
  • Other Optical Films
  • In another embodiment, the light emitting device further comprises a light redirecting optical film, element, or region that redirects light incident at a first range of angles, wavelength range, and polarization range into a second range of angles different than the first.
  • Light Redirecting Optical Element
  • In one embodiment, the light redirecting optical element is disposed between at least one region of the light emitting region and the outer surface of the light emitting device (which may be a surface of the light redirecting optical element). In a further embodiment, the light redirecting optical element is shaped or configured to substantially conform to the shape of the light emitting region of the light emitting device. For example, a light emitting sign may comprise a lightguide film that is substantially transparent surrounding the light emitting region that is in the shape of indicia; wherein the lightguide film comprises light extraction features in the region of the indicia; and a light redirecting optical element (such as a film with substantially hemispherical light collimating surface features) cut in the shape of the light emitting region is disposed between the light emitting region of the lightguide film and the light emitting surface of the light emitting device. In another embodiment, a light emitting sign comprises a film-based lightguide and a light redirecting optical element comprising a lens array formed from lenticules or microlenses (such as substantially hemispherical lenses used in integral images or 3D integral displays or photographs) disposed to receive light from the lightguide wherein the lens array separates light from the lightguide into two or more angularly separated images such that the sign displays stereoscopic images or indicia. The shape of the lens array film or component in the plane parallel to the lightguide film may be substantially conformal to the shape of the light emitting region or one or more sub-regions of the light emitting regions such that sign emits angularly separated information in the entire light emitting region or one or more sub-regions of the light emitting region. For example, the sign may have a first two dimensional text region and a second region with a stereoscopic image.
  • Light Reflecting Film
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lightguide disposed between a light reflecting film and the light emitting surface of the light emitting device. In one embodiment, the light reflecting film is a light reflecting optical element. For example, a white reflective polyester film of at least the same size and shape of the light emitting region may be disposed on the opposite side of the lightguide as the light emitting surface of the light emitting device or the light reflecting region may conform to the size and shape of one or all of the light emitting regions, or the light reflecting region may be of a size or shape occupying a smaller area than the light emitting region. A light reflecting film or component substantially the same shape as the light emitting region or region comprising light extracting features may maintain the transparency of the light emitting device in the regions surrounding or between the light emitting regions or regions comprising light extracting features while increasing the average luminance in the region on the light emitting surface of the light emitting device by at least one selected from the group: 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%, and 110% by reflecting a portion of the light received toward the light emitting surface.
  • In one embodiment, the light redirecting optical film, element or region comprises at least one surface or volumetric feature selected from the group: refractive, prismatic, totally internally reflective, specular reflective element or coating, diffusely reflective element or coating, reflective diffractive optical element, transmissive diffractive optical element, reflective holographic optical element, transmissive holographic optical element, reflective light scattering, transmissive light scattering, light diffusing, multi-layer anti-reflection coating, moth-eye or substantially conical surface structure type anti-reflection coating, Giant Birefringent Optic multilayer reflection, specularly reflective polarizer, diffusely reflective polarizer, cholesteric polarizer, guided mode resonance reflective polarizer, absorptive polarizer, transmissive anisotropic scattering (surface or volume), reflective anisotropic scattering (surface or volume), substantially symmetric or isotropic scattering, birefringent, optical retardation, wavelength converting, collimating, light redirecting, spatial filtering, angular dependent scattering, electro-optical (PDLC, liquid crystal, etc.), electrowetting, electrophoretic, wavelength range absorptive filter, wavelength range reflective filter, structured nano-feature surface, light management components, prismatic structured surface components, and hybrids of two or more of the aforementioned films or components.
  • Some examples of light redirecting optical films with prismatic structured surfaces may include, but are not limited to, Vikuiti™ Brightness Enhancement Film (BEF I, BEF Ii, BEF BEF III 90/50 5T, BEF III 90/50 M, BEF III 90/50 M2, BEF II 90/50 7T, BEF III 90/50 10T, BEF III 90/50 AS), Vikuiti™ Transparent Right Angle Film (TRAF), Vikuiti™ Optical Lighting Film (OLF or SOLE), IDE II, TRAF II, or 3M™ Diamond Graderm Sheeting, all of which are available from 3M Company, St, Paul, Minn. Other examples of light management component constructions may include the rounded peak/valley films described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,394,255 and 5,552,907 (both to Yokota et al.), Reverse Prism Film from Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd or other totally internally reflection based prismatic film such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,746,130, 6,151,169, 5,126,882, and 6,545,827, lenticular lens array film, microlens array film, diffuser film, microstructure BEF, nanostructure BEF, Rowlux microlens film from Rowland Technologies, films with arrangements of light concentrators such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,160,017, and hybrids of one or more of the aforementioned films.
  • In another embodiment, the light emitting device further comprises an angularly selected light absorbing film, element or region. Angularly selective light absorbing films may substantially transmit light within a first incident angular range and substantially absorb light within a second incident angular range. These films can reduce glare light, absorb undesired light at specific angles (such as desired in military applications where stray or unwanted light can illuminate parts of the cockpit or the windshield causing stray reflections. Louver films, such as those manufactured by skiving a multi-layered material at a first angle are known in the display industry and include louver films such as 3M™ Privacy Film by 3M Company and other angular absorbing or redirecting films such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,467,873; 3,524,789; 4,788,094; and 5,254,388.
  • Angular Broadening Element
  • In a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a light redirecting element disposed to collimate or reduce the angular FWHM of the light from the lightguide, a spatial light modulator, and an angular broadening element such as a diffuser or light redirecting element disposed on the viewing side of the spatial light modulator to increase the angular FWHM of the light exiting the spatial light modulator. For example, light may be collimated to pass through or onto pixels or sub-pixels of a spatial light modulator and the light may then angularly broadened (increase the angular FWHM) to increase the angle of view of the device. In a further embodiment, the angular broadening element is disposed within or on a component of the spatial light modulator. For example, a diffuser may be disposed between the outer glass and the polarizer in a liquid crystal display to broaden the collimated or partially collimated light after it has been spatially modulated by the liquid crystal layer. In a further embodiment, the light emitting device may further comprise a light absorbing film, circular polarizer, microlens type projection screen, or other rear projection type screen to absorb a first portion of the ambient light incident on the light emitting surface to improve the contrast.
  • Light Absorbing Region or Layer
  • In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: cladding, adhesive, layer disposed between the lightguide or lightguide region and the outer light emitting surface of the light emitting device, patterned region, printed region, and extruded region on one or more surfaces or within the volume of the film comprises a light absorbing material which absorbs a first portion of light in a first predetermined wavelength range. In one embodiment, the first predetermined wavelength range includes light from 300 nm to 400 nm and the region absorbs UV light that could degrade or yellow the lightguide region, layer or other region or layer. In one embodiment, the cladding region is disposed between the light absorbing region and the lightguide such that the light propagating through the lightguide and the evanescent portion of the light propagating within the lightguide is not absorbed due to the absorbing region since it does not pass through the absorbing region unless it is extracted from the lightguide. In another embodiment, the light absorbing region or layer is an arrangement of light absorbing, light fluorescing, or light reflecting and absorbing regions which selectively absorb light in a predetermine pattern to provide a light emitting device with spatially varying luminance or color (such as in a dye-sublimated or inject printed overlay which is laminated or printed onto a layer of the film to provide a colored image, graphic, logo or indicia). In another embodiment, the light absorbing region is disposed in close proximity to the light extracting region such that the light emitted from the light emitting device due to the particular light extraction feature has a predetermined color or luminous intensity. For example, inks comprising titanium dioxide and light absorbing dyes can be disposed on the lightguide regions such that a portion of the light reaching the surface of the lightguide in that region passes through the dye and is extracted due to the light extraction feature or the light is extracted by the light extraction feature and passes through the dye.
  • In one embodiment, a tight emitting device comprises a five layer lightguide region with a UV light absorbing material disposed in the outer layers which are both optically coupled to cladding layers which are both optically coupled to the inner lightguide layer. In one embodiment, a 5 layer film comprises a polycarbonate material in the central lightguide layer with low refractive index cladding layers of a thickness between 1 micron and 150 microns optically coupled to the lightguide layer and a UV light absorbing material in the outer layers of the film.
  • In another embodiment, alight absorbing material is disposed on one side of the tight emitting device such that the light emitted from the device is contrasted spatially against a darker background. In one embodiment, a black PET layer or region is disposed in proximity to one side or region of the light emitting device. In another embodiment, white reflecting regions are disposed in proximity to the light extracting region such that the light escaping the lightguide in the direction of the white reflecting region is reflected back toward the lightguide. In one embodiment, a lightguide comprises a lightguide region and a cladding region and a light absorbing layer is disposed (laminated, coated, co-extruded, etc.) on the cladding region. In one embodiment, light from a laser cuts (or ablates) regions in the light absorbing layer and creates light extracting regions in the cladding region and/or lightguide region. A white reflecting film such as a white PET film with voids is disposed next to the light absorbing region. The white film may be laminated or spaced by an air gap, adhesive or other material. In this example, a portion of the light extracted in the light extracting regions formed by the laser is directed toward the white film and reflected back through the lightguide where a portion of this tight escapes the lightguide on the opposite side and increases the luminance of the region. This example illustrates where registration of the white reflecting region, black reflection region, and light extracting regions are not necessary since the laser created holes in the black film and created the light extracting features at the same time. This example also illustrates the ability for the light emitting device to display an image, logo, or indicia in the off state where light is not emitted from the light source since the white reflective regions reflect ambient light. This is useful, for example, in a sign application where power can be saved during the daytime since ambient light can be used to illuminate the sign. The light absorbing region or layer may also be a colored other than black such as red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, etc.
  • In another embodiment, the light absorbing region or layer is a portion of another element of the light emitting device. In one embodiment, the light absorbing region is a portion of the black housing comprising at least a portion of the input coupler that is optically coupled to the cladding region using an adhesive.
  • In another embodiment, the cladding, outer surface or portion of the lightguide of a light emitting device comprises a light absorbing region such as a black stripe region that absorbs more than one selected from the group: 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% and 90% of the visible light propagating within the cladding region. In another embodiment, the lightguide is less than 200 microns in thickness and a light absorbing region optically coupled to the cladding absorbs more than 70% of the light propagating within the cladding which passes through the lightguide wherein the width of the light absorbing region in the direction of the light propagating within the lightguide is less than one selected from the group: 10 millimeters, 5 millimeters, 3 millimeters, 2 millimeters, and 1 millimeter. In another embodiment, the light absorbing region has a width in the direction of propagation of light within the lightguide between one selected from the group: 0.5-3 millimeters, 0.5-6 millimeters, 0.5-12 millimeters, and 0.05-10 centimeters.
  • In one embodiment, the light absorbing region is at least one selected from the group: a black material patterned into a line, a material patterned into a shape or collection of shapes, a material patterned on one or both sides of the film, cladding, or layer optically coupled to the cladding, a material patterned on one or more lightguide couplers, a material patterned in the light mixing region, a material patterned in the lightguide, and a material patterned in the lightguide region. In another embodiment, the light absorbing region is patterned during the cutting step for the film, coupling lightguides, or cutting step of other regions, layers or elements. In another embodiment, the light absorbing region covers at least one percentage of surface area of the coupling lightguides selected from the group: 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 20%, and 40%.
  • Adhesion Properties of the Lightguide, Film, Cladding or Other Layer
  • In one embodiment, at least one selected from the group: lightguide, light transmitting film, cladding, and layer disposed in contact with a layer of the film has adhesive properties. In one embodiment, the cladding is a “low tack” adhesive that allows the film to be removed from a window or substantially planar surface while “wetting out” the interface. By “wetting out” the interface as used herein, the two surfaces are optically coupled such that the Fresnel reflection from the interfaces at the surface is less than 2%. The adhesive layer or region may comprise a polyacrylate adhesive, animal glue or adhesive, carbohydrate polymer as an adhesive, natural rubber based adhesive, polysulfide adhesive, tannin based adhesive, lignin based adhesive, furan based adhesive, urea formaldehyde adhesive, melamine formaldehyde adhesive, isocyanate wood binder, polyurethane adhesive, polyvinyl and ethylene vinyl acetate, hot melt adhesive, reactive acrylic adhesive, anaerobic adhesive, or epoxy resin adhesive.
  • In one embodiment, the adhesive layer or region has an ASTM D 903 (modified for 72 hour dwell time) peel strength to standard window glass less than one selected from the group 77 N/100 mm, 55 N/100 mm, 44 N/100 mm, 33 N/100 mm, 22 N/100 mm, and 11 N/100 mm. In another embodiment, the adhesive, when adhered to glass, will support the weight of the light emitting device.
  • Removable Protective Layer
  • In one embodiment, the light emitting device comprises a removable protective layer. In another embodiment, a light transmitting film is disposed on the outer surface of the light emitting device and the ASTM D 903 (modified for 72 hour dwell time) peel strength to the lightguide is less than one selected from the group 77 N/100 min, 55 N/100 mm, 44 N/1.00 mm, 33 N/100 min, 22 N/100 mm, and 11 N/100 mm. In another embodiment, when the outer surface of the light emitting device becomes scratched, damaged, or reduces the optical performance of the light emitting device, the outer layer of the film may be removed. In a further embodiment, a tag or extended region of the protective layer allows the individual layer to be removed while maintaining the integrity or position of the lightguide beneath which may have one or more additional protective layers disposed thereupon. In one embodiment, a thin film-based lightguide disposed as a frontlight for a reflective display comprises removable protective layers. The protective layers may be thin or thick and may comprise materials such as those used as display screen protectors, anti-reflection coatings, anti-glare coatings or surfaces, hardcoatings, circular polarizers, or surface structures that reduce the visibility of fingerprints such as those disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/537,930.
  • Lightguide Comprising Circuitry or Electrical Components
  • In one embodiment, at least one electrical component is physically disposed on the lightguide or a layer physically coupled to the lightguide. By incorporating electrical components on the lightguide film, a separate substrate for one or more electrical components is not needed (thus lower volumes and component costs) and flexible roll-to-roll processing can be employed to manufacture or dispose the electrical component on the lightguide film. In another embodiment, the lightguide comprises at least one electrical component physically coupled to a cladding region, a cladding layer, or a layer or region physically coupled to the core material or the cladding material. In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a flexible layer comprising a plurality of electrical components and the layer is physically coupled to a flexible lightguide film. In one embodiment, a lightguide comprises at least one electrical component or component used with electrical component disposed thereon, wherein the at least one component is selected from the group: active electrical component, passive electrical component, transistor, thin film transistor, diode, resistor, terminal, connector, socket, cord, lead, switch, keypad, relay, reed switch, thermostat, circuit breaker, limit switch, mercury switch, centrifugal switch, resistor, trimmer, potentiometer, heater, resistance wire, thermistor, varistor, fuse, resettable fuse, metal oxide varistor, inrush current limiter, gas discharge tube, circuit breaker, spark gap, filament lamp, capacitor, variable capacitor, inductor, variable inductor, saturable inductor, transformer, magnetic amplifier, ferrite impedance, motor, generator, solenoid, speaker, microphone, RC circuit, LC circuit, crystal, ceramic resonator, ceramic filter, surface acoustic wave filter, transducer, ultrasonic motor, power source, battery, fuel cell, power supply, photovoltaic device, thereto electric generator, electrical generator, sensor, buzzer, linear variable differential transformer, rotary encoder, inclinometer, motion sensor, flow meter, strain gauge, accelerometer, thermocouple, thermopile, thermistor, resistance temperature detector, bolometer, thermal cutoff, magnetometer, hygrometer, photo resistor, solid state component, standard diode, rectifier, bridge rectifier, Schottky diode, hot carrier diode, zener diode, transient voltage suppression diode, varactor, tuning diode, varicap, variable capacitance diode, light emitting diode, laser, photodiode, solar cell, photovoltaic cell, photovoltaic array, avalanche photodiode, diode for alternating current, DIAC, trigger diode, SIDAC, current source diode, Peltier cooler, transistor, bipolar transistor, bipolar junction transistor, phototransistor, Darlington transistor (NPN or PNP), Sziklai pair, field effect transistor, junction field effect transistor, metal oxide semiconductor FET, metal semiconductor FET, high electron mobility transistor, thyristor, unijunction transistor, programmable unijunction transistor, silicon controlled rectifier, static induction transistor/thyristor, triode for alternating current, composite transistor, insulated gate bipolar transistor, hybrid circuits, optoelectronic circuit, opto-isolator, opto-coupler, photo-coupler, photodiode, BJT, JFET, SCR, TRIAC, open collector IC, CMOS IC, solid state relay, opto switch, opto interrupter, optical switch, optical interrupter, photo switch, photo interrupter, led display, vacuum fluorescent display, cathode ray tube, liquid crystal display (preformed characters, dot matrix, passive matrix, active matrix TFT, flexible display, organic LCD, monochrome LCD, color LCD), diode, triode, tetrode, pentode, hexode, pentagrid, octode, barretter, nuvistor, compactron, microwave, klystron, magnetron, multiple electronic components assembled in a device that is in itself used as a component, oscillator, display device, filter, antennas, elemental dipole, biconicat, yagi, phased array, magnetic dipole (loop), wire-wrap, breadboard, enclosure, heat sink, heat sink paste & pads, fan, printed circuit hoards, lamp, memristor, integrated circuit, processor, memory, driver, and electrical leads and interconnects.
  • In another embodiment, the electrical component comprises organic components. In one embodiment, at least one electrical component is formed on the lightguide, on a component of the lightguide, or on a layer physically coupled to the lightguide material using roll-to-roll processing. In a further embodiment, a flexible lightguide film material is physically coupled to at least one flexible electrical component or a collection of electrical components such that the resulting lightguide is flexible and has can emit light without temporary or permanent visible demarcation, crease, luminance non-uniformity, MURA, or blemish when a light emitting region is bent to a radius of curvature less than one selected from the group: 100 millimeters, 75 millimeters, 50 millimeters, 25 millimeters, 10 millimeters and 5 millimeters.
  • Light Redirecting Element Disposed to Redirect Light from the Lightguide
  • In one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lightguide with light redirecting elements disposed on or within the lightguide and light extraction features disposed in a predetermined relationship relative to one or more light redirecting elements. In another embodiment, a first portion of the light redirecting elements are disposed above a light extraction feature in a direction substantially perpendicular to the light emitting surface, lightguide, or lightguide region. In a further embodiment, light redirecting elements are disposed to redirect light which was redirected from a light extraction feature such that the light exiting the light redirecting elements is one selected from the group: more collimated than a similar lightguide with a substantially planar surface; has a full angular width at half maximum intensity less than 60 degrees, 50 degrees, 40 degrees, 30 degrees, 20 degrees, 10 degrees, or 5 degrees in a first light output plane; has a full angular width at half maximum intensity less than 60 degrees, 50 degrees, 40 degrees, 30 degrees, 20 degrees, 10 degrees, or 5 degrees in a first light output plane and second light output plane orthogonal to the first output plane; and has a full angular width at half maximum intensity less than 60 degrees, 50 degrees, 40 degrees, 30 degrees, 20 degrees, 10 degrees, or 5 degrees in all planes parallel to the optical axis of the light emitting device.
  • In one embodiment, the lightguide comprises a substantially linear array of lenticules disposed on at least one surface opposite a substantially linear array of light extraction features wherein the light redirecting element collimates a first portion of the light extracted from the lightguide by the light extraction features. In a further embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lenticular lens film lightguide further comprising coupling lightguides, wherein the coupling lightguides are disposed substantially parallel to the lenticules at the lightguide region or light mixing region and the lenticular lens film further comprises linear regions of light reflecting ink light extraction features disposed substantially opposite the lenticules on the opposite surface of the lenticular lens film lightguide and the light exiting the light emitting device is collimated. In a further embodiment, the light extraction features are light redirecting features (such as TIR grooves or linear diffraction gratings) that redirect light incident within one plane significantly more than light incident from a plane orthogonal to the first. In one embodiment, a lenticular lens film comprises grooves on the opposite surface of the lenticules oriented at a first angle greater than 0 degrees to the lenticules.
  • In another embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a microlens array film lightguide with an array of microlenses on one surface and the film further comprises regions of reflecting ink light extraction features disposed substantially opposite the microlenses on the opposite surface of the lenticular lens film lightguide and the light exiting the light emitting device is substantially collimated or has an angular FWHM luminous intensity less than 60 degrees. A microlens array film, for example can collimate light from the light extraction features in radially symmetric directions. In one embodiment, the microlens array film is separated from the lightguide by an air gap.
  • The width of the light extraction features (reflecting line of ink in the aforementioned lenticular lens lightguide film embodiment) will contribute to the degree of collimation of the light exiting the light emitting device. In one embodiment, light redirecting elements are disposed substantially opposite light extraction features and the average width of the light extraction features in first direction divided by the average width in a first direction of the light redirecting elements is less than one selected from the group: 1, 0.9, 0.7, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1. In a further embodiment, the focal point of collimated visible light incident on a light redirecting element in a direction opposite from the surface comprising the light extraction feature is within at most one selected from the group: 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% and 60% of the width of light redirecting element from the light extraction feature. In another embodiment, the focal length of at least one light redirecting element or the average focal length of the light redirecting elements when illuminated by collimated light from the direction opposite the lightguide is less than one selected from the group: 1 millimeter, 500 microns, 300 microns, 200 microns, 100 microns, 75 microns, 50 microns and 25 microns.
  • In one embodiment, the focal length of the light redirecting element divided by the width of the light redirecting element is less than one selected from the group: 3, 2, 1.5, 1, 0.8, and 0.6. In another embodiment, the f# of the light redirecting elements is less than one selected from the group: 3, 2, 1.5, 1, 0.8, and 0.6. In another embodiment, the light redirecting element is a linear Fresnel lens array with a cross-section of refractive Fresnel structures. In another embodiment, the light redirecting element is a linear Fresnel-TIR hybrid lens array with a cross-section of refractive Fresnel structures and totally internally reflective structures.
  • In a further embodiment, light redirecting elements are disposed to redirect light which was redirected from a light extraction feature such that a portion of the light exiting the light redirecting elements is redirected with an optical axis at an angle greater than 0 degrees from the direction perpendicular to the light emitting region, lightguide region, lightguide, or light emitting surface. In another embodiment, the light redirecting elements are disposed to redirect light which was redirected from a light extraction feature such that the light exiting the light redirecting elements is redirected to an optical axis substantially parallel to the direction perpendicular to the light emitting region, lightguide region, lightguide, or light emitting surface. In a further embodiment, the light redirecting element decreases the full angular width at half maximum intensity of the light incident on a region of the light redirecting element and redirects the optical axis of the light incident to a region of the light redirecting element at a first angle to a second angle different than the first.
  • In another embodiment, the angular spread of the light redirected by the light extraction feature is controlled to optimize a light control factor. One light control factor is the percentage of light reaching a neighboring light redirecting element which could redirect light into an undesirable angle. This could cause side-lobes or light output into undesirable areas. For example, a strongly diffusively reflective scattering light extraction feature disposed directly beneath a lenticule in a lenticular lens array may scatter light into a neighboring lenticule such that there is a side lobe of light at higher angular intensity which is undesirable in an application desiring collimated light output. Similarly a light extraction feature which redirects light into a large angular rage such as a hemispherical dome with a relatively small radius of curvature may also redirect light into neighboring lenticules and create side-lobes. In one embodiment, the Bidirectional Scattering Distribution Function (BSDF) of the light extraction feature is controlled to direct a first portion of incident light within a first angular range into a second angular range into the light redirecting element to create a predetermined third angular range of light exiting the light emitting device.
  • Off-Axis Light Redirection
  • In a further embodiment, at least one light extraction feature is centered in a first plane off-axis from the axis of the light redirecting element. In this embodiment, a portion of the light extraction feature may intersect the optical axis of the light extraction feature or it may be disposed sufficiently far from the optical axis that it does not intersect the optical axis of the light extraction feature. In another embodiment, the distance between the centers of the light extraction features and the corresponding light redirecting elements in first plane varies across the array or arrangement of light redirecting elements.
  • In one embodiment, the locations of the light extraction features relative to the locations of the corresponding light redirecting elements varies in at least a first plane and the optical axis of the light emitted from different regions of the light emitting surface varies relative to the orientation of the light redirecting elements. In this embodiment, for example, light from two different regions of a planar light emitting surface can be directed in two different directions. In another example of this embodiment, light from two different regions (the bottom and side regions, for example) of a light fixture with a convex curved light emitting surface directed downwards is directed in the same direction (the optical axes of each region are directed downwards toward the nadir wherein the optical axis of the light redirecting elements in the bottom region are substantially parallel to the nadir, and the optical axis of the light redirecting elements in the side region are at an angle, such as 45 degrees, from the nadir). In another embodiment, the location of the light extraction features are further from the optical axes of the corresponding light redirecting elements in the outer regions of the light emitting surface in a direction perpendicular to lenticules than the central regions where the light extraction regions are substantially on-axis and the light emitted from the light emitting device is more collimated. Similarly, if the light extraction features are located further from the optical axes of the light redirecting elements in a direction orthogonal to the lenticules from a first edge of a light emitting surface, the light emitted from the light emitting surface can be directed substantially off-axis. Other combinations of locations of light extraction features relative to light redirecting elements can readily be envisioned including varying the distance of the light extraction features from the optical axis of the light redirecting element in a nonlinear fashion, moving closer to the axis then further from the axis then closer to the axis in a first direction, moving further from the axis then closer to the axis then further to the axis in a first direction, upper and lower apexes of curved regions of a light emitting surface with a sinusoidal-like cross-sectional (wave-like) profile having light extraction features substantially on-axis and the walls of the profile having light extraction features further from the optical axis of the light redirecting elements, regular or irregular variations in separation distances of the light extraction features from the optical axes of the light redirecting elements, etc.
  • Angular Width Control
  • In one embodiment, the widths of the light extraction features relative to the corresponding widths of the light redirecting elements varies in at least a first plane and the full angular width at half maximum intensity of the light emitted from the light redirecting elements varies in at least a first plane. For example, in one embodiment, a light emitting device comprises a lenticular lens array lightguide film wherein the central region of the light emitting surface in a direction perpendicular to the lenticules comprises light extraction features that have an average width of approximately 20% of the average width of the lenticules and the outer region of the light emitting surface in a direction perpendicular to the lenticules comprises light extraction features with an average width of approximately 5% of the average width of the lenticules and the angular full width at half maximum intensity of the light emitted from the central region is larger than that from the outer regions.
  • Off-Axis and Angular Width Control
  • In one embodiment, the locations and widths of the light extraction features relative to is the corresponding locations and widths, respectively, of the light redirecting elements varies in at least a first plane and the full angular width at half maximum intensity of the light emitted from the light redirecting elements and the optical axis of the light emitted from different regions of the light emitting surface varies in at least a first plane. By controlling the relative widths and locations of the light extraction features, the direction and angular width of the light emitted from the light emitting device can be varied and controlled to achieve desired light output profiles.
  • Light Redirecting Element
  • As used herein, the light redirecting element is an optical element which redirects a portion of light of a first wavelength range incident in a first angular range into a second angular range different than the first, in one embodiment, the light redirecting element comprises at least one element selected from the group: refractive features, totally internally reflected feature, reflective surface, prismatic surface, microlens surface, diffractive feature, holographic feature, diffraction grating, surface feature, volumetric feature, and lens. In a further embodiment, the light redirecting element comprises a plurality of the aforementioned elements. The plurality of elements may be in the form of a 2-D array (such as a grid of microlenses or close-packed array of microlenses), a one-dimensional array (such as a lenticular lens array), random arrangement, predetermined non-regular spacing, semi-random arrangement, or other predetermined arrangement. The elements may comprise different features, with different surface or volumetric features or interfaces and may be disposed at different thicknesses within the volume of the light redirecting element, lightguide, or lightguide region. The individual elements may vary in the x, y, or z direction by at least one selected from the group: height, width, thickness, position, angle, radius of curvature, pitch, orientation, spacing, cross-sectional profile, and location in the x, y, or z axis.
  • In one embodiment, the light redirecting element is optically coupled to the lightguide in at least one region. In another embodiment, the light redirecting element, film, or layer comprising the light redirecting element is separated in a direction perpendicular to the lightguide, lightguide region, or light emitting surface of the lightguide by an air gap. In a father embodiment, the lightguide, lightguide region, or light emitting surface of the lightguide is disposed substantially between two or more light redirecting elements. In another embodiment, a cladding layer or region is disposed between the lightguide or lightguide region and the light redirecting element. In another embodiment, the lightguide or lightguide region is disposed between two light redirecting elements wherein light is extracted from the lightguide or lightguide region from both sides and redirected by light redirecting elements. In this embodiment, a backlight may be designed to emit light in opposite directions to illuminate two displays, or the light emitting device could be designed to emit light from one side of the lightguide by adding a reflective element to reflect light emitted out of the lightguide in the opposite direction back through the lightguide and out the other side.
  • In another embodiment, the average or maximum dimension of an element of a light redirecting element in at least one output plane of the light redirecting element is equal to or less than one selected from the group: 100%, 90%, 80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, and 10% the average or maximum dimension of a pixel or sub-pixel of a spatial light modulator or display. In another embodiment, a backlight comprises light redirecting elements that redirect light to within a MEM of 30 degrees toward a display wherein each pixel or sub-pixel of the display receives light from two or more light redirecting elements.
  • In a further embodiment, the light redirecting element is disposed to receive light from an electro-optical element wherein the optical properties may be changed in one or more regions, selectively or as a whole by applying a voltage or current to the device. In one embodiment, the light extraction features are regions of a