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Diamonds Turn Out Precision Optics

Photonics Spectra
Dec 1997
Dr. Tuckerman Moss, Senior Technical Editor

During the middle of the Cold War, the United States military establishment became upset about the cost of infrared components. The military was going to need increasing numbers of large-diameter germanium components to control the 'smart' weapons it was developing.
A mere handful of companies controlled the world supply of optical grade germanium, and their prices weren't as responsive to these pressures as the American military minds wished they would be. Wouldn't it be nice if infrared optical components were reflective rather than transmissive?
Thus began the search for a method of producing optical-quality surfaces by machining them from metal substrates. One such method is now commonly called single-point diamond turning, and recent mechanical advances have overcome some of the surface quality problems that have prevented the technology's progress.

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