Lorne Whitehead, Professor

B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., UBC (77,79,89), P. Eng.
CEO, TIR Systems Ltd. (83--93).

Research Interests

My research centers on applying novel geometrical configurations to applied physics problems. The primary focus is in structured surface physics -- the study of interfaces containing precision structures on a size scale of 0.1 to 100 microns. The advent of sophisticated polymeric micro-replication and thin film deposition technology have had two key impacts on this field. First, it is possible to study of wide range of new structures. Second, it is practical to mass-produce such structures, which opens up a new range of industrial opportunities.


An example is the prism light guide, which is a structure employing precise geometrical prismatic facets on a transparent hollow pipe, to enable the guiding of light by means of total internal reflection. The primary application of that device has been the large scale guiding of light for illumination purposes. We are currently developing a cost-effective solution to use hollow light guides to illuminate core regions of office buildings with daylight.


A different example is the CLEAR display, in which a microstructured surface very efficiently reflects ambient light by total internal reflection, and the reflection can be easily and efficiently modulated to form an image on the display by moving an absorbing material into contact with the microstructures. The result is a high brightness, low power display that has the appearance of ink printed on paper.


My research also involves the study of high dynamic range display systems, and my work in this area led to a new a new display technology developed by UBC spin-off company, Brightside Technologies.  The company was acquired in 2007 by Dolby Laboratories and became Dolby Canada.


Most recently, we developed a technology for bringing sunlight deep into buildings for illumination, in order to reduce the need for electric lighting and improve the overall lighting quality.  This technology is now under development by UBC spin-off SunCentral Inc. 


My research program is funded under the collaborative chair program of NSERC and is a combination of funds from NSERC and from the 3M Company, a respected leader in the field of manufacturing microstructured polymeric surfaces.

Structured Surface Physics Home Page

Selected Publications

·       L. Whitehead M. and Mossman, “A Monte Carlo method for assessing color rendering quality with possible application to color rendering standards,Color Research and Application (in print).