Innovative Optical LED Headlights Wins Engineering Award

A student team from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology applied a freeform optical engineering concept for automotive LED headlight and has won a prize in the 2018 Global Capstone Design Fair held in South Korea.

The students’ prototype utilizes freeform optics which requires less working parts than current headlight models. By utilizing molded plastic instead of the current practice of metal reflector cones, the headlight could be easier and cheaper to manufacture. With non-sequential ray tracing, the students designed a 3-D freeform lightguide to direct the light source into a road’s legal pattern, without the use of reflectors or bevels.

The headlamp is designed to meet automotive regulations for low beam patterns, and a working prototype was built up from the designed freeform lightguide, high power white LED source, electronic driving circuitry, and a second projection lens which was also prototyped by the team.


(Image: Rose-Hulman Institue of Technology)

The project leader, senior optical engineering student Audrey Brand began the research last year. She and her team then developed a functioning prototype of the light guide within nine weeks. Then, after five months, they finally achieve satisfactory results with the new technology. The finding was presented in the summer at an international conference in California and was selected to participate in E2Festa, an engineering and technology festival in Korea.

“It was an honor to be awarded the grand prize when compared against teams from all over the world that are working to solve problems such varied as braille literacy and smart parking structures,” says Brand.

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