Faceplates enhance the screens of high-end displays.
Type and images appear directly on their surface and are extremely legible. Photo: SCHOTT/W. Feldmann
Faceplates made of glass fibers improve the readability of digital displays and reduce scattered light.
The object lying on a sheet of paper that contains print appears to be a perfectly normal glass block. But, somehow the printing underneath it looks as if it is swimming on the surface of the glass. The reason is that the block is made up of many millions of glass optical fibers. Each and every one of them guides the incident light from the outside surface down to the print material first. Then, the image is transferred back to the surface of the fiber optic.
More than just a glass block:
Faceplates consist of millions of individual optical glass fibers.
Photo: SCHOTT/W. Feldmann
Increased safety: Displays in cockpits also offer sales opportunities for faceplates. Photo: Ozone Images
In order to manufacture larger optical components from these, they are bundled parallel to each other in the form of a block. Then, they are bonded together by subjecting them to pressure and high temperatures so that the outer casing of the individual fibers softens and fuses together into a solid block or boule. Disks of fiber optic material are then cut out of this block in the desired thicknesses and milled, ground and polished into their final shape. Faceplates made from glass fibers are currently being used as cover panels for CCD image sensors in professional digital cameras, for example. They successfully protect the surfaces of chips from being damaged, hold off X-rays and deliver light to sensors more effectively than lenses. Other areas of application include night vision devices and medical X-ray systems with electronic image processing. In the future, they will also be used as cover plates for demanding display applications, such as ruggedized PDAs and other display devices that require privacy for the user or limited side illumination for reduced reflections and security.
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