Headlights have really come a long way in the 21st century. Adaptive headlights, along with new systems that light up potential risks and follow the driver’s eye offer a powerful indication as to what lies ahead.
Current adaptive headlight designs rely on up to 100 separate LEDs to offer inpidual light sources, each with their own accurately aligned optics. Recently, a team of scientists at Germany’s famous Fraunhofer Institute has discovered a way to up this resolution to over 1,000 LEDs, while still enabling more accurate control through the ability to switch on and off any of these inpidual LED pixels.
The team was able to attain this by connecting 256 pixels across four separate LED chips to a driver chip. Working with 125-micron pixels, the researchers found out two ways to do this while ensuring a robust connection and adequate cooling of the chip. The first method involves a gold-tin alloy fitted to the chip in a fine grid structure with intermediate distances as small as 15 microns. Meanwhile, the second technique relies on a gold, porous nano-sponge that can compress just like a regular sponge, enabling it to absorb any unevenness in the chip.
According to Fraunhofer’s Dr. Hermann Oppermann, this nanoporous gold structure is beneficial in a sense that it compresses like a real sponge and can be adapted to the component’s topography.
The resulting adaptive headlight enables a permanent high beam, thus creating less blinding glare for other road users and enabling finer control over light distribution. Moreover, it holds the promise of higher energy efficiency compared to others that utilize mechanical masks for adaptive lighting, as only the pixels required are switched on, something the research team claim is usually around 30 percent of the total available output.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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