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A dome is composed of two parallel optical surfaces. Optical domes are unqiue because, unlike any other optical components, the key attribute of the dome is to have no optical effect. Mirrors reflect light, lenses bend light, domes ideally change nothing.
Typically the lead element in an optical system, a dome is often exposed to the environment and protects electronic sensors. Accordingly, domes made from hard ceramic materials are preferred due to their ability to withstand wind and rain erosion. Domes are typically found in single-use defense applications and submersible vehicles for deep ocean exploration.
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In describing a dome, the material, one radius, center thickness, and wall thickness variation (WTV) (Figure 1) must be effectively specified. All other attributes generally follow the specifications typical of a spherical lens.
The image above shows WTV related to radius error, grossly exaggerated for illustrative purposes. Other WTV sources may include irregularity, tilt or decenter of the concentric surface.
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Optimax utilizes deterministic CNC machine tools for predictable removal rates and adherence to tight tolerances. To control WTV, precision tools that maintain surface registration are used. Optimax grinds and polishes most optical materials such as glass, Fused Silica, ALON™, CeraLumina™, Spinel, ZnS and crystals for UV, Visible and IR applications.
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Optimax uses interferometers and mechanical measurement to verify that parts meet the form error specification. Optimax has developed interferometric test techniques for overcoming static fringes.
Optimax’s R&D department is continuously looking for ways to improve our fabrication process and produce higher quality optics. Our current research projects are designed to meet future market needs, such as:
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Freeform surfaces are quickly becoming a desired and necessary shape for many refractive and reflective optical systems. In this paper, we will discuss the round-robin study of surface irregularity measurements of a freeform toroidal window.
Freeform optical systems are becoming increasingly common due to new design and manufacturing methods. We present an example compact freeform optical system and describe considerations for transfer of the prescription of freeform surfaces for fabrication.
Monolithic multi-surface telescopes combined with freeform optical surfaces provide improvements in optical performance in a smaller footprint as compared to systems with spherical surfaces, while providing superior mechanical stability to traditional telescope assemblies.
Opticians have for years kept polishing pitch in electrified containers called “pitch pots” that keeps it in at an elevated temperature. By insulating the top of a pitch pot, it will impact the temperature, which we will explore in this paper.
This work presents an overview of the Segmented Aperture Interferometric Nulling Testbed (SAINT), a project that will pair an actively-controlled macro-scale segmented mirror with the Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC).
This explores quick predictive methods for calculating potentially risky stresses in cemented doublets underdoing temperature change that agrees well with finite element analysis. It also provides guidelines for avoiding stress concentrations.
Optical designers assume a mathematically derived statistical distribution of the relevant design parameters. Presented are measured distributions using lens manufacturing data to better inform the decision-making process.
Optical designers assume a mathematically derived statistical distribution of the relevant design parameters. However, there may be significant differences between the assumed distributions and the likely outcomes from manufacturing.
Hard ceramic conformal windows and domes provide challenges to the optical fabricator. Creative optical fabrication techniques, including VIBE™, help produce these types of optics cost-effectively.
Sapphire poses very difficult challenges to optical manufacturers due to its high hardness and anisotropic properties. These challenges can result in long lead times and high prices. Optimax is developing a high speed, cost effective process to produce such windows.
When manufacturing precision optical surfaces of relatively larger sizes it is critical to understand the thermal stability of the substrate material. The material properties associated with thermal homogenization are commonly reviewed and soak schedules are created.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has become widely used in recent years for the creation of both prototype and end-use parts. The flexibility is unparalleled and has opened the design space to enable features like undercuts and internal channels.
Improvements to sensing hardware and image processing for airborne optical systems have inspired designers to propose new optics and windows to be: more precise, conformal/freeform and multi-functional.
There are many decisions to make when designing, specifying, manufacturing, and testing optical components for high-energy laser systems — each is a potential failure mechanism that must be understood and controlled.
The concept for polishing optical elements with a process called VIBE is presented, application to non uniformly sloped optics such as aspheric shapes is detailed, and initial results on spherical surfaces are presented.
With increasing demand for deep UV applications, special considerations must be taken to produce the optics. Specifically, as the wavelength of incident light decreases, the importance of smooth surfaces increases.