Alex Heemels

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft (2015). But my fascination with synthesizers and their signal-altering properties led to an interest in Signal Processing. I decided to pursue a master’s in Systems and Control engineering at the faculty of 3mE. 

There I learned how we can manipulate light, like how a synthesizer modulates sound, initiating my interest in Optics and making me choose to specialize in the topic. 

During my master’s thesis, I worked on simulating and building a Fourier Ptychographic microscope for Malaria detection under Prof. Gleb Vdovine and Dr. Tope Agbana. I obtained my MSc. in 2019. 

Shortly after, I started my Ph.D. at the Optics Research Group with Dr. Aurele Adam and Prof. Paul Urbach. 

I work on the optical design of non-imaging systems such as office lighting, car headlights, and solar simulators. In such systems, we want to redirect the light emitted by a source using freeform lenses and mirrors, optical elements without symmetry. 

With well-designed freeforms, we can achieve pleasant indoor lighting, safely illuminate the road, and project complex patterns without throwing away light. 

My main research interest is how to design these freeforms and what light distribution we can make using complex light sources and restricted lens geometries. 

In collaboration with the numerical analysis department, I also investigate the possibilities of designing freeform lenses using machine learning and ray tracing algorithms compatible with backpropagation training. The network learns to understand the physics behind the optical design process by adding ray tracing into the training pipeline. 


Alex Heemels - phd-student

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  • Hobbies: Making music - Studying Physics
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