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OPTICS DICTIONARY TERMS
axial gradientIn gradient index optics, a gradient profile in which the refractive index varies along the direction of light propagation, or optical axis. Axial gradient lenses can be used to correct spherical aberration, spherochromatism and other aberrations.
metamaterialA material engineered from artificial matter not found in nature. The artificial makeup and design of metamaterials give...
resolution1. In optics, the ability of a lens system to reproduce the points, lines and surfaces in an object as separate entities in...
objectThe figure seen through or imaged by an optical system. It may contain structures, natural or artificial, or it may be the...
imageIn optics, an image is the reconstruction of light rays from a source or object when light from that source or object is...
RuticonA ruticon is an opto-electronic device in which light going through it can be modulated by an electric field. The...
normalized frequencyAlso referred to as the V number in fiber optics; the normalized frequency is a dimensionless quantity, denoted by the...
lambertian source planeIn optics, a plane that emits a flux proportional to the cosine of the angle of the normal; dense opal glass is an example.
optical sapphireA material used in optics that differs from ruby only in the slight impurity that gives the material its color. Colorless...
opticalPertaining to optics and the phenomena of light.
octaveThe interval between two points, where the frequency at the second point is twice the frequency of the first. In physics and...
spherical gradientIn gradient index optics, a gradient profile in which the refractive index varies symmetrically about a point.
magnitudeIn astronomy, the relative brightness of a celestial body. Originally a scale from 1 to 6, where 1 represented the brightest...
laser guide starAn artificial star used to aid in adaptive optics imaging of the sky. The guide star is provided from a telescope system on...
micro ion millingProcess developed for the production of high-resolution patterns in electro- and magneto-optics. These high-generation...
image opticsAny form of lens, optical system (camera, telescope, microscope, etc.), or opto-electronics utilized for the purpose of...
optogeneticsA discipline that combines optics and genetics to enable the use of light to stimulate and control cells in living tissue,...
covered grooveA technique used in integrated optics where a groove is cut on a substrate surface and covered by a thin film to facilitate...
visually coupled airborne systems simulator (VCASS)A visual system including a tiny television tube and imaging optics, all contained in a helmet to be worn by pilots in...
pressurizationInjecting a gas (usually nitrogen) with a very low moisture content into the body of an optical instrument to create a...
micro-opticsTiny (less than 2 mm in diameter) lenses, beamsplitters and other optical components used, for example, in endoscopes or...
crystal opticsThe study of the transmission of radiant energy through crystals, especially anisotropic crystals, and their effects on...
electron opticsThe control of free electron movement through the use of electrical or magnetic fields, and use of this electron movement in...
matrix optics
incoherentIn optics, the term denoting the lack of a fixed phase relationship between two waves. If two incoherent waves are...
tolerance fieldIn fiber optics, the annular region between two concentric circles; used to specify fiber cladding and core sizes.
integrated opticsA thin-film device containing miniature optical components connected via optical waveguides on a transparent dielectric...
collectorA positive lens located at or close to an intermediate image plane. The collector refracts off-axis light bundles, directing...
diffractive lensAny optical device that utilizes diffraction in an image-forming capability. Familiar diffractive lenses are zone plates,...
scanner1. A device used to trace out an object and build up an image. One of the most common of these types is video scanning. The...
electro-optics1. The branch of physics that deals with the use of electrical energy to create or manipulate light waves, generally by...
dioptricsThe branch of optics that deals with the study of the refraction of light, particularly by the transmitting medium of the...
waferA cross-sectional slice cut from an ingot of either single-crystal, fused, polycrystalline or amorphous material that has...
micro-optic gyroscope (MOG)A thin-film device that integrates optics and electronics on a single chip to provide a passive-ring resonator gyroscope...
kinematic mountA mount for an optic element or optics assembly, designed so that all six degrees of freedom are singly constrained. This...
coated opticsOptical elements that have been coated with one or more layers of dielectric, or metallic material. These coatings serve to...
minimum spot sizeThe smallest linear diameter to which a laser or other beam of radiant energy is capable of being focused, depending on the...
convergence1. In optics, the bending of light rays toward each other, as by a convex or positive lens. 2. Turning in the eyes to view a...
head-up display (HUD)An optical system that superimposes a synthetic display providing navigational or weapon-aiming information on a pilot's or...
Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopy (LSFM)Also known as single plane illumination microscopy (SPIM), this process was designed for imaging of sensitive samples and...
hygroscopicIn fiber optics, a material whose properties, usually of transmission, are distinctly affected by the absorption of water...
modulationIn general, changes in one oscillation signal caused by another, such as amplitude or frequency modulation in radio which...
bubble chamber opticsSpecially designed optics for the observation and photographing of hydrogen in a bubble chamber.
remote laser weldingA robotic process commonly employed by automakers that enables high-speed and flexible production throughput by using...
beam optics
laser penDevice consisting of a laser diode, beam-correcting optics and collimating optics in a single housing. Also called a...
emergent rayIn optics, the light ray leaving a medium in contrast to the entering or incident ray.
light patternIn optics, a pattern, such as the Buchmann-Meyer pattern, that may be viewed when the record surface is illuminated by a...
adaptive opticsOptical components or assemblies whose performance is monitored and controlled so as to compensate for aberrations, static...
beam tableLaser light show effects equipment including optics and mechanical devices that reflect, position or distort the laser beam,...
solid opticsOptical elements arranged with no spaces between, so that the light travels only through glass, not air.
static beam shapingA technique for creating optimal performance in a system by producing a specific beam irradiance distribution, usually...
rainbow hologramEssentially, a hologram of a hologram, in which the first-generation hologram is masked with a narrow slit. During image...
free-space optics (FSO)A type of optical communications technology dealing with the use of lasers and other light sources to send telecommunication...
radial gradientIn gradient index optics, a gradient profile in which the index varies in a direction perpendicular to the optical axis....
bandwidth-limited operationIn fiber optics, the limitation on performance imposed by the system bandwidth rather than the amplitude of the signal.
fiber opticsThe use of thin flexible glass or plastic fibers as wave guides - or "light pipes" - to channel light from one location to...
meteorological optics
binary opticsOptical elements, often created by micromachining, lithography or vacuum deposition, that rely on diffraction of the...
paraboloidal mirrorA concave mirror that has the form of a paraboloid of revolution. The paraboloidal mirror may have only a portion of a...
near-field scanningA measurement technique used to determine the spatial distribution profile of an electrical or optical quantity of interest...
microdisplayA transmissive, reflective or emissive high-resolution display that typically measures 1 cm diagonally, and whose use...
infrared cameraA camera that uses infrared optics to image and focus infrared radiation onto a recording medium sensitive to its...
fiberless optics
surface1. In optics, one of the exterior faces of an optical element. 2. The process of grinding or generating the face of an...
dissonanceIn optics, the production of maxima and minima by the superimposition of two sets of interference fringes from light of two...
Matrix opticsThe linear relationship between input and output optical fields for a given optical system or application that allows the...
vapor-phase axial deposition (VAD)A process by which high-quality fiber optics are made. See axial vapor-phase deposition.
scratch resistant coating (SRC)Thin layers intended to prevent damage to plastic optics.
polishing jigIn fiber optics, a device used to polish a biconic plug to a specified length and surface finish. Also called a polishing...
magneto-opticsThe study of the effects of a magnetic field on specific properties of light, such as polarization.
physical opticsThe branch of science that treats light as a wave phenomenon wherein light propagation is studied by wavefronts rather than...
automatic profilingIn fiber optics, the use of a detector to study the range of refractive indices achieved at various wavelengths. This...
atmospheric opticsThe analysis of the properties of radiation, such as light, when acted upon by variations in the atmosphere. Blue and red...
cleaning equipmentIn optics, degreasers or ultrasonic arrangements used for removing pitch, cement or polishing material from lenses during...
Judas opticsA small defocused Galilean telescope mounted in a hole in a door. Viewed from inside through the positive lens, a wide-angle...
astronomical mirrorGenerally, a mirror used instead of lenses in astronomical and space applications. It is not limited in size, does not...
atom opticsThe area of optics in which the wave nature of a particle is exploited to carry out very accurate interferometry and other...
Gaussian optics1. That branch of optics that illustrates the theory in which q is substituted for sin q in Snell's law. Effective results...
quantum opticsThe area of optics in which quantum theory is used to describe light in discrete units or "quanta" of energy known as...
photonicsThe technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The...
figure (fig)In optics, the geometrical form of an optical surface.
plastic opticsThe integration of plastic materials into optical applications. When the materials are refined into lenses, prisms and...
photoelasticIn optics, the double refraction that is produced when stress is applied to a transparent material. Plastics, which are...
heterostructuresA method used in integrated optics; formed by growing an epitaxial layer of active material, removing it from its base and...
hard coatingUsually a dielectric coating on glass or plastic optics; a coating that is comparable in hardness to glass itself.
concave gratingA reflecting grating ruled on a concave spherical surface that not only disperses the light but focuses the spectrum. The...
dust extinctionIn atmospheric optics, the almost total blocking of light transmission in the atmosphere due to the scattering and...
physiological opticsThe study of visual perception by the sense of sight.
divergence1. In optics, the bending of rays away from each other. 2. In lasers, the spreading of a laser beam with increased distance...
x-ray opticsThe study of the physics of x-rays, where the x-rays exhibit properties similar to those of lightwaves. Also called Roentgen...
thermographThe instrument used to collect thermal radiation information on an object by scanning. It consists basically of a detector,...
diffraction gratingA glass substrate carrying a layer of deposited aluminum that has been pressure-ruled with a large number of fine...
Schlieren opticsAn optical system that records inhomogeneities within a medium by detecting the energy refracted by that portion of the...
buffer1. In fiber optics, a protective material applied as an optical fiber cover that has no optical function. 2. In image...
opticsThe study of light – optics is the area of physics that deals with the generation, propagation, and interaction of...
momentum transferIn physics, momentum transfer is the amount of momentum transferred from one particle to another during particle collision...
mandrelA shaft, spindle or any object generally passed through a workpiece to hold, support or shape a particular piece during its...
space-division multiplex (SDM)In fiber optics, the condition in which each fiber of a bundle carries a separate channel.
ultraviolet fiber optics (UVFO)Special glasses that extend the usable range of fiber optics well into the ultraviolet region. The fibers have a core of...
adapter1. In optics, the housing, usually cylindrical, that contains the lenses and iris diaphragm of a camera. 2. In fiber optics,...
infrared scannerAn optical system used to collect infrared energy from a scene using scanning optics with a point or line detector, as...
solar furnaceAn optical system that is designed to produce a high temperature in a specified area by the optical direction and...
laser pointerHandheld optical laser device containing a semiconductor or DPSS source. The output is corrected via internal collimating...
fresnelA unit of frequency equivalent to 1012 cps. Named for Augustin Jean Fresnel, a French physicist known for his work in light...
transmission (T)In optics, the conduction of radiant energy through a medium. Often denotes the percentage of energy passing through an...
geometric opticsA field of physics that deals with light as if it truly were composed of rays diverging in various directions from the...
refractive index contrastA measure of the relative difference in refractive index between two optical materials. Most commonly used in fiber optics...
refracting sphereA transparent sphere that has an index of refraction that is different from that of the medium surrounding it; used in...
laser triangulationA technique that uses a solid-state laser and a detector to determine an object's relative distance to the system. The laser...
exposureIn optics, the total radiant energy incident on a surface-per-unit area. It is equal to the integral over time of the...
massive opticsOptical components exceeding 24 in. in diameter. The components are usually glass, acrylic or polystyrene and are used for...
injection moldingA method of producing high-quality plastic optics in large volumes by injecting the heated, liquified plastic at high...
strainIn optics, the mechanical tension, compression or shear in optical glass due to internal stress caused by improper cooling...
leaky rayIn an optical waveguide, a ray for which geometric optics would predict total internal reflection at the core boundary, but...
cladding modeA mode that is confined by virtue of a lower-index medium surrounding the cladding. Cladding modes, in the terminology of...
optics of materialThe area of optics that deals with the interaction of light with a given material. The optical properties of material are...
tangent ogiveIn optics, a shape often given to the leading edge of a projectile. In any side view it appears as a pointed arc, while any...
attenuation-limited powerIn fiber optics, the limitation on performance imposed by the amplitude of a received signal rather than distortion.
bellowsIn optics, a collapsible structure situated between the lens and film of a camera to allow variation of the distance between...
Gaussian beam opticsThe area of optics that deals with the propagation of Gaussian laser beams in free space, or any general medium - i.e....
cutoff wavelength1. In detector technology, the long wavelength at which detector response falls to a set percentage (usually 20 or 50...
laser tubeThe device, usually made of glass or a similar material, that contains the resonant cavity and optics of a gas laser.
infrared searchlightAn infrared source combined with reflecting projection optics to illuminate a target making it visible when observed through...
soft coatingA term describing an antireflection coating that may be applied to optics that cannot tolerate the high temperatures usually...
toric lensA lens having one or more toric surfaces. A toric surface is one having a maximum power in one meridian and a minimum power...
collective lensA convex or positive lens that serves to collect energy and direct it into subsequent system optics.
endoscopeA medical instrument used to view inside the human body by inserting the instrument into a natural or created aperture. The...
wave opticsAlso referred to as physical optics - the area of optics in which the wave nature of light is essential when defining its...
acousto-opticsDiscipline within optical physics that addresses sound vibration, phonon effects and their influencing behavior within...
transpositionIn optics, the changing of the relative curves of a lens without changing its refractive value.
replicated opticsOptical components, usually reflectors, produced using proprietary techniques that transfer the precision of a master to a...
paraxialCharacteristic of optical analyses that are limited to infinitesimally small apertures. Also called first-order or Gaussian...
geometric imageThe position and shape of the image of a point source, as predicted by geometric optics alone. The geometric image is to be...
high-density storageExtensive data storage in the form of bits, with the use of high-resolution photographic materials and optics, and generally...
first-order optics
vacuum apparatusEquipment dependent on the effects of a vacuum. The principal applications in optics are in the coating of lenses and...
tissue opticsThe study of the optical properties of living tissue. Increased understanding of the behavior of light in this varied,...
neutralizationIn optics, the process of combining two lenses having equal and opposite powers to produce a result having no power.
optical encoderA device designed to measure linear or rotary motion by detection of the movement of markings on a transparent medium past a...
active opticsTechnology that corrects the shape of reflective optics; primarily applied in large telescope systems, in order to...
diffractive opticsOptical elements that use diffraction to control wavefronts. Diffractive optical elements include diffraction gratings,...
cladding glassIn fiber optics, the glass that is found around the glass core of the fiber, and that has a lower refractive index than the...
Geometrical opticsThe area of optics in which the propagation of light is described by geometrical lines (or rays) governed by Fermat's...
equivalent wavelengthIn surface height measurement of optics with steep slopes, the use of two short visible wavelengths to synthesize a longer,...
nano (n)An SI prefix meaning one billionth (10-9). Nano can also be used to indicate the study of atoms, molecules and other...
high-performance parallel interface (HIPPI)A very high bandwidth communication line often used in fiber optics.
cold coatingA method of applying antireflection coatings to optics that avoids the elevated temperatures normally used. A cold coating...
intensified vidiconA standard direct-readout vidicon tube linked by fiber optics to an intensifier for increased sensitivity.

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