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Nonimaging Optics and the Radiative Transport Properties of Ideal Illumination


Illumination systems have advanced significantly in the 21st century to develop more energy efficient lighting, however, many of the optical systems that direct the light from an illumination source remain archaic in their design principles. This leads to significant performance inefficiencies in lighting, even with a highly efficient energy source. With the advent of nonimaging optics, understanding of ideal light transfer has unlocked new opportunities to advance the field of illumination and deliver truly ideal optical systems, which minimize energy waste and light pollution while maximizing spatial illumination.

This dissertation will present novel work advancing the field of illumination by outlining a new figure of merit that characterizes the thermodynamic limits to geometric illumination. With this figure of merit, any optical design can be quantified by performing a ray tracing simulation. This figure of merit will help to inform illumination engineers whether their design is fully illuminating a space or wasting light to the environment.

Utilizing this novel figure of merit, two new optical systems are presented to improve on existing illumination designs. The first design, a new theatrical spotlight based on nonimaging optics, offers equivalent light output to existing commercial designs, while decreasing the energy requirement down to 10-fold. The second nonimaging design focuses on three-dimensional asymmetric off axis illumination. Building on the two-dimensional design principles of the nonimaging asymmetric compound parabolic concentrator (ACPC), a new 3D version was developed that preserves the asymmetry while maintaining ideal light transfer.

These two new designs were characterized by the novel figure of merit. Both the nonimaging theatrical spotlight and 3D ACPC showed significant optical performance benefits over existing designs in literature and commercial production. Future work will be proposed on how to enhance the usefulness of this novel figure of merit, as well as future applications, characterization, and production of the new illumination designs developed.

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