Magic Leap Patent | Patterning Of High Refractive Index Glasses By Plasma Etching

Patent: Patterning Of High Refractive Index Glasses By Plasma Etching

Publication Number: 10442727

Publication Date: 20191015

Applicants: Magic Leap

Abstract

Plasma etching processes for forming patterns in high refractive index glass substrates, such as for use as waveguides, are provided herein. The substrates may be formed of glass having a refractive index of greater than or equal to about 1.65 and having less than about 50 wt % SiO.sub.2. The plasma etching processes may include both chemical and physical etching components. In some embodiments, the plasma etching processes can include forming a patterned mask layer on at least a portion of the high refractive index glass substrate and exposing the mask layer and high refractive index glass substrate to a plasma to remove high refractive index glass from the exposed portions of the substrate. Any remaining mask layer is subsequently removed from the high refractive index glass substrate. The removal of the glass forms a desired patterned structure, such as a diffractive grating, in the high refractive index glass substrate.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

This application incorporates by reference the entirety of each of the following patent applications: U.S. application Ser. No. 14/555,585 filed on Nov. 27, 2014, published on Jul. 23, 2015 as U.S. Publication No. 2015/0205126; U.S. application Ser. No. 14/690,401 filed on Apr. 18, 2015, published on Oct. 22, 2015 as U.S. Publication No. 2015/0302652; U.S. application Ser. No. 14/212,961 filed on Mar. 14, 2014, now U.S. Pat. No. 9,417,452 issued on Aug. 16, 2016; and U.S. application Ser. No. 14/331,218 filed on Jul. 14, 2014, published on Oct. 29, 2015 as U.S. Publication No. 2015/0309263.

BACKGROUND

* Field*

The present disclosure relates to display systems and, more particularly to high resolution patterning of high refractive index glasses for use therein.

* Description of the Related Art*

Modern computing and display technologies have facilitated the development of systems for so called “virtual reality” or “augmented reality” experiences, in which digitally reproduced images or portions thereof are presented to a user in a manner wherein they seem to be, or may be perceived as, real. A virtual reality, or “VR”, scenario typically involves the presentation of digital or virtual image information without transparency to other actual real-world visual input; an augmented reality, or “AR”, scenario typically involves presentation of digital or virtual image information as an augmentation to visualization of the actual world around the user. A mixed reality, or “MR”, scenario is a type of AR scenario and typically involves virtual objects that are integrated into, and responsive to, the natural world. For example, an MR scenario may include AR image content that appears to be blocked by or is otherwise perceived to interact with objects in the real world.

Referring to FIG. 1, an augmented reality scene 1 is depicted. The user of an AR technology sees a real-world park-like setting 1100 featuring people, trees, buildings in the background, and a concrete platform 1120. The user also perceives that he “sees” “virtual content” such as a robot statue 1110 standing upon the real-world platform 1120, and a flying cartoon-like avatar character 1130 which seems to be a personification of a bumble bee. These elements 1130, 1110 are “virtual” in that they do not exist in the real world. Because the human visual perception system is complex, it is challenging to produce AR technology that facilitates a comfortable, natural-feeling, rich presentation of virtual image elements amongst other virtual or real-world imagery elements.

Systems and methods disclosed herein address various challenges related to AR and VR technology.

SUMMARY

According to some aspects, methods are disclosed for forming one or more diffractive gratings in a waveguide. In some embodiments, a method may comprise providing a waveguide having a refractive index of greater than or equal to about 1.65. In some embodiments, more than 50 wt % of the waveguide is formed of one or more of B.sub.2O.sub.3, Al.sub.2O.sub.3, ZrO.sub.2, Li.sub.2O, Na.sub.2O, K.sub.2O, MgO, CaO, SrO, BaO, ZnO, La.sub.2O.sub.3, Nb.sub.2O.sub.5, TiO.sub.2, HfO, and Sb.sub.2O.sub.3. In some embodiments, the method may further comprise providing a mask layer over the waveguide, the mask layer having a pattern corresponding to the one or more diffractive gratings, the pattern selectively exposing portions of the waveguide, and anisotropically etching the exposed portions of the waveguide to define the one or more diffractive gratings in the waveguide.

In some embodiments, providing a mask layer comprises providing the pattern comprising a first diffraction grating pattern over a first region and a second diffraction grating pattern in the second region of the waveguide, wherein the second region extends over a majority of an area of a surface of the waveguide. In some embodiments, the first diffraction grating pattern corresponds to an incoupling optical element and the second diffraction grating pattern corresponds to an outcoupling optical element. In some embodiments, providing a mask layer comprises providing the pattern comprising a third diffraction grating pattern over a third region of the waveguide, wherein the third diffraction grating pattern corresponds to an orthogonal pupil expander configured to redirect light from the incoupling optical element to the top coupling optical. In some embodiments, the one or more diffractive gratings comprise substantially parallel lines, wherein each line has a critical dimension of less than about 1 micron and an aspect ratio of between about 1:10 to about 10:1. In some embodiments, each line has a critical dimension of less than about 300 nm.

According to some aspects plasma etching processes for forming features in a high refractive index glass substrate are provided. In some embodiments, the process may comprise providing a patterned mask layer on at least a portion of the high refractive index glass substrate, the substrate formed of glass having a refractive index of greater than or equal to about 1.65 and comprising less than about 50 wt % SiO.sub.2, and etching the features in the substrate by exposing the mask layer and high refractive index glass substrate to a plasma etch comprising chemical and physical etchant species to selectively remove exposed high refractive index glass from the high refractive index glass substrate.

In some embodiments, the high refractive index glass substrate comprises less than about 30 wt % SiO.sub.2. In some embodiments, more than 50 wt % of the high refractive index glass substrate is formed of one or more of B.sub.2O.sub.3, Al.sub.2O.sub.3, ZrO.sub.2, Li.sub.2O, Na.sub.2O, K.sub.2O, MgO, CaO, SrO, BaO, ZnO, La.sub.2O.sub.3, Nb.sub.2O.sub.5, TiO.sub.2, HfO, and Sb.sub.2O.sub.3. In some embodiments, the high refractive index glass substrate has a refractive index of greater than or equal to about 1.70. In some embodiments, exposing the mask layer and high refractive index glass substrate to a plasma etch comprises anisotropically removing high refractive index glass from an exposed surface of the high refractive index glass substrate.

In some embodiments, the plasma is generated in situ in a reaction chamber accommodating the high refractive index glass substrate. In some embodiments, the source gas comprises SF.sub.6 and Ar gas. In some embodiments, the source gas comprises BCl.sub.3, HBr, and Ar gas. In some embodiments, the source gas comprises CF.sub.4, CHF.sub.3, and Ar gas. In some embodiments, the reaction chamber is the reaction chamber of an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) reactor. In some embodiments, the reaction chamber is the reaction chamber of a dual frequency ICP reactor. In some embodiments, each of the features has a critical dimension of less than about 100 nm. In some embodiments, each of the features has an aspect ratio of between about 1:10 to about 10:1. In some embodiments, the features are sized and spaced to form a diffractive grating. In some embodiments, the mask layer comprises a polymeric resist layer. In some embodiments, the process may further comprise removing remaining mask layer from the high refractive index glass substrate after exposing the mask layer and high refractive index glass substrate to the plasma.

According to some aspects, processes for forming features in a high refractive index glass substrate are provided. In some embodiments, the process may comprise selectively exposing a portion of the high refractive index glass substrate to a plasma in a reaction chamber to selectively remove high refractive index glass from the high refractive index glass substrate, wherein the high refractive index glass substrate comprises less than about 50 wt % SiO.sub.2 and has a refractive index of greater than or equal to about 1.65.

In some embodiments, high refractive index glass substrate comprises one or more of B.sub.2O.sub.3, Al.sub.2O.sub.3, ZrO.sub.2, Li.sub.2O, Na.sub.2O, K.sub.2O, MgO, CaO, SrO, BaO, ZnO, La.sub.2O.sub.3, Nb.sub.2O.sub.5, TiO.sub.2, HfO, and Sb.sub.2O.sub.3. In some embodiments, selectively exposing a portion of the high refractive index glass substrate defines a pattern of protrusions in the substrate, wherein the protrusions form an optical diffraction grating. In some embodiments, the process may further comprise depositing a mask layer on the substrate, patterning the mask layer to define a first set of spaced apart lines in a first region over the substrate, and a second set of spaced part lines in a second region over the substrate, wherein selectively exposing a portion of the high refractive index glass substrate comprises etching the substrate through the mask layer to form a light incoupling diffractive grating in an area of the substrate corresponding to the first region, and a light outcoupling diffractive grating in an area of the substrate corresponding to the second region. In some embodiments, patterning the mask layer further defines a third set of spaced apart lines in a third region over the substrate, and wherein selectively exposing a portion of the high refractive index glass substrate comprises etching the substrate through the mask layer to form an orthogonal pupil expander corresponding to the third region.

According to some other aspects, methods for forming an optical waveguide structure are provided. The methods comprise identifying desired dimensional characteristics of first features to be formed in a high-index glass substrate and identifying etching characteristics of an etching process that is used for forming at least the first features in the high-index glass substrate. Based on the identified etching characteristics, biased dimensional characteristics are determined for second features of a patterned layer that are to be formed on the high-index glass substrate prior to forming the first features in the high-index glass substrate. The patterned layer is formed on the high-index glass substrate. Forming the patterned layer includes forming the second features in the patterned layered, the second features having the biased dimensional characteristics. The methods also comprise transferring, using the etching process, a pattern of the second features, having the biased dimensional characteristics, into the high-index glass to form the first features, having the desired dimensional characteristics in the high-index glass substrate.

According to yet other aspects, methods are provided for patterning a glass substrate. The methods comprise providing an etch mask over a glass substrate formed of glass having a refractive index of 1.65 or greater. Features in the etch mask for defining corresponding features in the glass substrate are larger than a desired size of the corresponding features. The methods also comprise etching the glass substrate through the etch mask to define the features in the glass substrate.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a user’s view of augmented reality (AR) through an AR device.

FIG. 2 illustrates an example of wearable display system.

FIG. 3 illustrates a conventional display system for simulating three-dimensional imagery for a user.

FIG. 4 illustrates aspects of an approach for simulating three-dimensional imagery using multiple depth planes.

FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate relationships between radius of curvature and focal radius.

FIG. 6 illustrates an example of a waveguide stack for outputting image information to a user.

FIG. 7 illustrates an example of exit beams outputted by a waveguide.

FIG. 8 illustrates an example of a stacked waveguide assembly in which each depth plane includes images formed using multiple different component colors.

FIG. 9A illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of a set of stacked waveguides that each includes an incoupling optical element.

FIG. 9B illustrates a perspective view of an example of the plurality of stacked waveguides of FIG. 9A.

FIG. 9C illustrates a top-down plan view of an example of the plurality of stacked waveguides of FIGS. 9A and 9B.

FIG. 10 is a process flow diagram for an example of a plasma etching process according to some embodiments.

FIG. 11A illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of a glass substrate having an overlying etch mask.

FIG. 11B illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of the structure of FIG. 11A undergoing a directional etch.

FIG. 11C illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of the structure of FIG. 11B after etching the glass substrate and removing the overlying etch mask.

FIG. 12A illustrates a cross-sectional side view of another example of an etch mask overlying a glass substrate.

FIG. 12B illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of the structure of FIG. 12A after expanding the sizes of features of the etch mask.

FIG. 12C illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of the structure of FIG. 12B undergoing a directional etch.

FIG. 12D illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an example of the structure of FIG. 12B after etching the glass substrate and removing the overlying etch mask.

The drawings are provided to illustrate example embodiments described herein and are not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure. The drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

VR and AR display systems may utilize high refractive index glass substrates as waveguides for providing image information in the form of light to a user. The high refractive index of the substrates provides desirable optical properties, including allowing the output of light from the substrate at a wide range of angles and facilitating total internal reflection (TIR) of light within that substrate. It will be appreciated that optical elements may be provided on the surface of the substrate to, e.g., incouple light for TIR within the substrate and/or outcouple light to the user. As an example, these optical elements may take the form of diffractive gratings.

It is difficult, however, to etch optical elements such as diffractive gratings directly in the body of high refractive index glass substrates. Substrate materials having a high refractive index are challenging to etch, particularly at the dimensions desired for optical elements, due to the low amounts of silicon oxide in the substrates. The optical properties of the optical elements, however, are highly dependent upon the regularity, dimensions, and shapes of the elements. It has been found that typical wet chemical etching or reactive ion etching have insufficiently high resolution and/or do not form features with sufficiently vertical or straight sidewalls and/or sufficient aspect ratios for use as optical diffractive gratings.

Consequently, a conventional approach for forming such optical elements is to deposit material for forming optical elements on the substrates. For example, the material may be vapor deposited and patterned. As another example, the optical elements may be formed in a separate film that is attached to the substrate. Such deposition or attachment, however, may undesirably add manufacturing complications and may also introduce optical artifacts. For example, the interfaces between the substrate and the deposited layer or film, and any adhesive layers joining the film to the substrate, may cause reflections that in turn cause optical artifacts.

According to some embodiments, an etching process allows features to be formed directly in the body of a high refractive index glass substrate, while providing high resolution and selectivity. In some embodiments, the etching process is a plasma etching process that comprises forming a patterned mask layer on at least a portion of the surface of the high refractive index glass substrate, and exposing the mask layer and high refractive index glass substrate to a plasma in a reaction chamber to remove a desired amount of high refractive index glass from the exposed portions of the surface of the substrate. The removal leaves features or structures having a desired pattern. The features may form, for example, optical elements such as diffractive gratings, on the surface of the high refractive index glass substrate. In some embodiments, any remaining mask layer of material may be removed from the surface of the substrate.

Preferably, the high refractive index glass substrate has a refractive index of about 1.65 or more or 1.75 or more, and less than about 50 wt % SiO.sub.2. In some embodiments, more than 50 wt % of the substrate is formed of one or more of B.sub.2O.sub.3, Al.sub.2O.sub.3, ZrO.sub.2, Li.sub.2O, Na.sub.2O, K.sub.2O, MgO, CaO, SrO, BaO, ZnO, La.sub.2O.sub.3, Nb.sub.2O.sub.5, TiO.sub.2, HfO, and Sb.sub.2O.sub.3. In some embodiments, the plasma etch is performed using a very high frequency (VHF) inductively coupled plasma (ICP). In some embodiments, the VHF power is in a range of 10]-2500 W and RF power is in a range of 10-500 W. Preferably, the etching process includes both chemical and physical etching components. In some embodiments, the etch chemistry includes one or more halogen-containing compounds and one or more inert gases. Examples of halogen-containing compounds include CF.sub.4, CHF.sub.3, SF.sub.6, O.sub.2, Cl.sub.2, BCl.sub.3, and HBr and examples of inert gases include Ar, He, and N.sub.2. The plasma may be performed at a temperature in the range of -150-50.degree. C.

In some embodiments, features having critical dimensions of about 10-500 nm, including about 10-100 nm, may be etched in the high refractive index glass substrates and may have aspect ratios in the range of about 1:10 to about 10:1. In addition, the etched features may have substantially straight sidewalls. In some embodiments, these features may be utilized in a variety of applications, such as in optical applications, including as waveguides for VR and AR display systems. For example, the etched features may form incoupling optical elements, outcoupling optical elements, or light distribution elements. In some embodiments, the plasma etching processes may be utilized to etch an arbitrary desired patterned into a high refractive index glass substrate for other applications where high resolution patterning is desired.

Advantageously, plasma etching processes according to some embodiments allow high resolution patterning and etching of high refractive index glass substrates to form features directly in the body of the substrates. The ability to directly etch the substrates may simplify the manufacturer of devices utilizing such features by obviating the need to separately form and attach films containing the features to the substrate. In some embodiments, optical performance may be improved by eliminating the presence of interfaces formed by the separately attach films.

In some embodiments, the etch mask used for patterning the underlying high refractive index glass substrate may be biased with etch mask features having dimensional characteristics that compensate for the characteristics of the etch used to etch the pattern into the substrate. For example, the sizes of features in the etch mask may be larger (e.g., wider and/or taller) than the desired sizes of features to be etched into the substrate, thereby compensating for etching of the etch mask itself over the course of etching the substrate such that, even with etching of the mask itself, the features formed in the substrate are of a desired size. In some embodiments, features in the etch mask may be patterned with sizes larger than the desired sizes of features in the substrate. In some other embodiments, the sizes of the features in the etch mask may be increased by depositing a layer of material to augment those features and/or by chemically reacting those features to increase their sizes. In some embodiments, the substrate may be patterned through the etch mask using a plasma-based etch as disclosed herein. In some other embodiments, the substrate may be patterned using ion beam milling. Advantageously, the biased etch mask facilitates the rapid patterning of high refractive index glass substrates while precisely forming features of desired dimensions.

Reference will now be made to the drawings, in which like reference numerals refer to like features throughout.

* Example Display Systems*

FIG. 2 illustrates an example of wearable display system 80 into which the etched high refractive index glass substrates may be incorporated. The display system 80 includes a display 62, and various mechanical and electronic modules and systems to support the functioning of that display 62. The display 62 may be coupled to a frame 64, which is wearable by a display system user or viewer 60 and which is configured to position the display 62 in front of the eyes of the user 60. The display 62 may be considered eyewear in some embodiments. In some embodiments, a speaker 66 is coupled to the frame 64 and positioned adjacent the ear canal of the user 60 (another speaker, not shown, may optionally be positioned adjacent the other ear canal of the user to provide for stereo/shapeable sound control). The display system may also include one or more microphones 67 or other devices to detect sound. In some embodiments, the microphone is configured to allow the user to provide inputs or commands to the system 80 (e.g., the selection of voice menu commands, natural language questions, etc.) and/or may allow audio communication with other persons (e.g., with other users of similar display systems).

With continued reference to FIG. 2, the display 62 is operatively coupled by communications link 68, such as by a wired lead or wireless connectivity, to a local data processing module 70 which may be mounted in a variety of configurations, such as fixedly attached to the frame 64, fixedly attached to a helmet or hat worn by the user, embedded in headphones, or otherwise removably attached to the user 60 (e.g., in a backpack-style configuration, in a belt-coupling style configuration). The local processing and data module 70 may comprise a hardware processor, as well as digital memory, such as non-volatile memory (e.g., flash memory or hard disk drives), both of which may be utilized to assist in the processing, caching, and storage of data. The data include data a) captured from sensors (which may be, e.g., operatively coupled to the frame 64 or otherwise attached to the user 60), such as image capture devices (such as cameras), microphones, inertial measurement units, accelerometers, compasses, GPS units, radio devices, gyros, and/or other sensors disclosed herein; and/or b) acquired and/or processed using remote processing module 72 and/or remote data repository 74 (including data relating to virtual content), possibly for passage to the display 62 after such processing or retrieval. The local processing and data module 70 may be operatively coupled by communication links 76, 78, such as via a wired or wireless communication links, to the remote processing module 72 and remote data repository 74 such that these remote modules 72, 74 are operatively coupled to each other and available as resources to the local processing and data module 70. In some embodiments, the local processing and data module 70 may include one or more of the image capture devices, microphones, inertial measurement units, accelerometers, compasses, GPS units, radio devices, and/or gyros. In some other embodiments, one or more of these sensors may be attached to the frame 64, or may be standalone structures that communicate with the local processing and data module 70 by wired or wireless communication pathways.

With continued reference to FIG. 2, in some embodiments, the remote processing module 72 may comprise one or more processors configured to analyze and process data and/or image information. In some embodiments, the remote data repository 74 may comprise a digital data storage facility, which may be available through the internet or other networking configuration in a “cloud” resource configuration. In some embodiments, the remote data repository 74 may include one or more remote servers, which provide information, e.g., information for generating augmented reality content, to the local processing and data module 70 and/or the remote processing module 72. In some embodiments, all data is stored and all computations are performed in the local processing and data module, allowing fully autonomous use from a remote module.

With reference now to FIG. 3, the perception of an image as being “three-dimensional” or “3-D” may be achieved by providing slightly different presentations of the image to each eye of the viewer. FIG. 3 illustrates a conventional display system for simulating three-dimensional imagery for a user. Two distinct images 5, 7–one for each eye 4, 6–are outputted to the user. The images 5, 7 are spaced from the eyes 4, 6 by a distance 10 along an optical or z-axis parallel to the line of sight of the viewer. The images 5, 7 are flat and the eyes 4, 6 may focus on the images by assuming a single accommodated state. Such systems rely on the human visual system to combine the images 5, 7 to provide a perception of depth and/or scale for the combined image.

It will be appreciated, however, that the human visual system is more complicated and providing a realistic perception of depth is more challenging. For example, many viewers of conventional “3-D” display systems find such systems to be uncomfortable or may not perceive a sense of depth at all. Without being limited by theory, it is believed that viewers of an object may perceive the object as being “three-dimensional” due to a combination of vergence and accommodation. Vergence movements (i.e., rotation of the eyes so that the pupils move toward or away from each other to converge the lines of sight of the eyes to fixate upon an object) of the two eyes relative to each other are closely associated with focusing (or “accommodation”) of the lenses and pupils of the eyes. Under normal conditions, changing the focus of the lenses of the eyes, or accommodating the eyes, to change focus from one object to another object at a different distance will automatically cause a matching change in vergence to the same distance, under a relationship known as the “accommodation-vergence reflex,” as well as pupil dilation or constriction. Likewise, a change in vergence will trigger a matching change in accommodation of lens shape and pupil size, under normal conditions. As noted herein, many stereoscopic or “3-D” display systems display a scene using slightly different presentations (and, so, slightly different images) to each eye such that a three-dimensional perspective is perceived by the human visual system. Such systems are uncomfortable for many viewers, however, since they, among other things, simply provide a different presentations of a scene, but with the eyes viewing all the image information at a single accommodated state, and work against the “accommodation-vergence reflex.” Display systems that provide a better match between accommodation and vergence may form more realistic and comfortable simulations of three-dimensional imagery.

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