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They are the hundreds of unit structures, ranging from 5 to 50 µm that can be seen on the surface of most insect eyes. These microlenses, which comprise an anti-reflective (AR) architecture, help a large amount of a light source converge toward photoreceptor cells, thus facilitating light trapping in dark environments. But that is not all, as these anti-reflective nanostructures also enable a surface's self-cleaning feature. For arthropods, this is a question of survival, while Raphaël sees it as a source of inspiration for improving energy efficiency in devices such as photovoltaic panels or imagers, which could greatly improve the trapping of light.
Raphaël received a DUT in Chemistry in Grenoble, before earning a professional degree on a work-study basis at the CNRS. He then continued his studies in Toulouse, where he got a Master’s in Materials Science and Engineering and Surface Treatment. Following his Master’s degree, Raphaël landed an internship at CEA-Leti, where he worked on the selective deposition of materials on substrates. He went on to earn a thesis at CEA-Leti, where he focused on the manufacturing of microlenses using grayscale lithography combined with a self-assembly process of block copolymers.
Grayscale lithography (300 mm) participates in creating microstructures which, through the self-assembly of block copolymers, can then integrate anti-reflective nanostructures. These two manufacturing processes make it possible to create and control complex or hierarchical microlens structures. For now, Raphaël has found an ideal compromise between assembly height and density, as the self-assembly of PS-b-PMMA ([polystyrene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) copolymers on a non-planar surface remains challenging. This would therefore provide energy efficiency for high-power devices. Furthermore, the process has direct access to CEA-Leti’s industrial equipment.
Raphaël is continuing to look for the best way possible to implement this technological innovation, and he already has filed a patent.
“When I opened the email from the conference organizers, I thought it was a scam. I was lucky to be in good company and that my colleagues were there to reassure me and confirm the news.”
Raluca Tiron, Maxime Argoud, Nicolas Posseme, Sebastien Berard Bergery, Api Warsono, Julie Spinelli
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.