Design and fabrication of 3D printed micro-optics

3D printing technology enables novel and komplex optics concepts.


3D printing of micro-optics using 2-photon lithography enables the implementation of concepts that were previously difficult or not at all feasible. Due to the almost unlimited geometrical degrees of freedom, the technology places special demands on the optical design and requires well thought-out approaches for optimization and simulation.

Fig. 1: Development steps in the implementation of new concepts using 2-photon lithography using the example of a miniaturized telephoto lens.

Topics includes

  • Design of complex printable free-form systems for illumination and imaging applications
  • Refractive, reflective and diffractive systems and hybrid systems
  • Tailor-made designs for direct printing on "difficult" substrates such as LEDs, CMOS image sensors, glass fibres and quantum dots
  • Measurement setups for the analysis of printed optics in terms of shape and optical performance
  • Production of own demonstrators, e.g. endoscope prototypes, miniature spectrometers, fiber-based micro-projectors or micro-cameras
  • Holistic simulation and optimization using ray tracing and wave-optical algorithms.
Fig. 2: Examples of implementation. A, doublet lens system printed onto an image fibre bundle. B, concentrator optics, printed directly on the active area of an LED. C, array of doublet lenses 3D-printed on a CMOS image sensor. D, defined blackening of 3D-printed lenses using an inkjet approach.


In 2020, Dr. Simon Thiele founded the startup PrintOptics out of this research field.

Current projects

Recent publications

  1. Thiele, C. Pruss, A. M. Herkommer, and H. Giessen, „3D printed stacked diffractive microlenses”, Opt. Express, vol. 27, pp. 35621 (2019).
  2. Drozella, A. Toulouse, S. Thiele, A. M. Herkommer, “Fast and comfortable GPU-accelerated wave-optical simulation for imaging properties and design of highly aspheric 3D-printed freeform microlens systems”, Proc. SPIE vol. 11105, 1110506 (2019).
  3. Toulouse, S. Thiele, H. Giessen, and A. Herkommer, “Alignment-free integration of apertures and non-transparent hulls into 3D-printed micro-optics,” Opt. Lett., vol. 43, no. 5283 (2018).
  4. Schmid, S. Thiele, A. Herkommer, and H. Giessen, "Three-dimensional direct laser written achromatic axicons and multi-component microlenses," Opt. Lett. 43, 5837-5840 (2018).
  5. Thiele, K. Arzenbacher, T. Gissibl, H. Giessen, and A. Herkommer, “3D-printed eagle eye: Compound microlens system for foveated imaging,” Science Advances, vol. 3, p. e1602655, (2017).
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