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Optical Components Pushed to Precision, Tolerance Limits

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The rise in low-price, high-power lasers is opening up new avenues in manufacturing and the life sciences, which sets some tough challenges for optical component makers to overcome.

MARIE FREEBODY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, [email protected]

From materials processing and automotive industries to next-generation inspection of semiconductors and laser surgery, the demand for high performance optical components has never been greater. Thanks to the increasing availability of low-price, high-power lasers, innovative industries are demanding more efficient materials processing, smaller components, increasingly detailed inspection, and greater accuracy. Such pursuits require optical components that can operate reliably under increasingly tough conditions. Optics systems must not only offer greater precision and higher tolerances but also better transmission with fewer wavefront errors. Optics makers are responding to the challenges with their own pioneering approaches that uniquely address the intended application and type of optical system in operation. At optics, imaging, and photonics technology producer Edmund Optics Inc., significant demand stems from life science applications and materials processing. “Many laser optics applications are moving toward shorter UV wavelengths for creating very small cuts in processes including laser surgery, printed circuit board manufacturing, and diamond engraving,” said Stefaan Vandendriessche, laser optics product line manager at Edmund Optics in Barrington, N.J. “This surge in UV optics applications has led to a corresponding demand for optical components designed to work at those wavelengths. As laser sources continue to become more affordable and the achievable precision of optical components continues to increase, new applications and markets become viable that weren’t previously possible.” Thanks to the increasing availability of low-price, high-power lasers, innovative industries are demanding more efficient materials processing, smaller components, increasingly detailed inspection, and greater accuracy. Corning Inc. is working on durable fibers that enable a tighter bend

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Published: August 2018
Glossary
laser optics
Laser optics refers to a broad category of optical components and systems designed for manipulating and controlling laser light. Laser optics play a crucial role in shaping the characteristics of laser beams, such as their intensity, wavelength, polarization, and spatial profile. Here are some common types of laser optics components: Lenses: Lenses are used to focus or collimate laser beams. Plano-convex, plano-concave, and biconvex lenses are commonly used for beam focusing, while...
magnetorheological finishing
Magnetorheological finishing (MRF) is a precision optics polishing technique used for shaping and finishing optical surfaces to achieve extremely high levels of smoothness and accuracy. It is commonly applied to lenses, mirrors, prisms, and other optical components in various industries, including astronomy, microscopy, and laser systems. The process involves using a magnetorheological fluid—a liquid containing ferrous (iron) particles—and a magnetic field to perform the...
freeform optics
Freeform optics refers to the design and fabrication of optical surfaces that do not follow traditional symmetric shapes, such as spheres or aspheres. Unlike standard optical components with symmetric and rotationally invariant surfaces, freeform optics feature non-rotationally symmetric and often complex surfaces. These surfaces can be tailored to meet specific optical requirements, offering greater flexibility in designing optical systems and achieving improved performance. Key points about...
wavefront
In considering a field of electromagnetic energy emanating from a source, the wavefront is a surface connecting all field points that are equidistant from the source.
optical componentsOpticsLaser OpticsMagnetorheological FinishingMRFUV opticsLaser Componentsaspheresfreeform opticslarge diameter optical componentsmetamaterialsEdmund OpticsLHCPRHCPLCPwavefrontJenoptikFeatures

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