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Innovation Collision

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2018
MICHAEL D. WHEELER, MANAGING EDITOR, michael.wheeler@photonics.com

Mike WheelerThe freeform optic. It has captured the imagination of optical designers, given its excellent performance and the ease with which it can be integrated into today’s optical systems. But manufacturing freeform optics is a tricky proposition and has required innovations in design, measurement, and characterization.

“Like the introduction of aspheres and the various techniques needed for producing them decades before, the cart arrived somewhat before the horse,” said QED Optics’ Mike DeMarco, one of several optics experts interviewed for this month’s optics-themed special section. He notes that not long ago, freeforms were at front of mind for many, but the need for manufacturing to bring them to fruition became an afterthought.

That’s beginning to change as a result of recent contributions from research consortia standardizing how freeform optics are defined, machined, and polished. Helping advance the cause is the speed with which this information can be accessed by the global optics community, according to Jessica DeGroote Nelson, director of technology and strategy for Rochester, N.Y.-based Optimax Systems Inc.

“The ability to easily communicate and collaborate on a global network is allowing more opportunities for these innovation collisions to occur,” DeGroote Nelson said.

Additional insights from the optics community can be found in this month’s special section from Senior Editor Justine Murphy (read article).

Turning to our lead feature this month, white light interferometry has long been an important tool for medical imaging, surface profiling, and thickness measurement. Recent innovations now allow for the nondestructive measurement of multilayer materials, such as touchscreens and compound lenses, and for very thin optics, such as soft contact lenses. Don’t miss “White Light Interferometry for Highly Accurate Thickness Measurements,” by Sam Margolis and Michael Houk, of Bristol Instruments Inc. (read article).

Elsewhere in the magazine:

• Authors from Ophir Optics Solutions Ltd. examine the strict requirements of large, high-performance mirrors in “Manufacturing High-Performance Mirrors” (read article).

• Contributing Editor Hank Hogan explores recent advances in 3D laser printing in “With Lasers, 3D Printing on a Miniature Scale” (read article).

• Timbercon’s Jonathon Goldstein, Ian Hass, and Jason Furtner examine the extreme conditions that fiber optic communication designs must consider in “Harsh-Environment Fiber Optics for Aerospace” (read article).

• Aerotech Inc.’s RJ Hardt takes a close look at the processes behind mass production of optical devices in “Nanometer-Scale Industrial Automation for Optical Device Manufacturing” (read article).

Enjoy the Issue!

EditorialMike Wheeler

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