Custom formulated nanolayered Gradient-Index (LGRIN) polymeric optical materials offer capabilities not possible in conventional GRIN or monolithic optics. Large scale processing of nanolayered polymer films with custom refractive indices has enabled production of polymer GRIN lenses with arbitrary spherical refractive index distribution in optics ranging from 6 to 90 mm diameters. Utilizing this nanolayered polymer film material a design and fabrication case study was performed to compare the performance of a LGRIN achromatic singlet to a traditional commercial glass lens achromatic doublet. High performance LGRIN achromatic singlet lenses were designed with non-linear, spherical refractive index distributions using specially developed ZEMAX design tools and fabricated. The performance of an f/5 LGRIN Achromatic Singlet is compared to a high-quality commercial glass f/5 Achromatic Doublet. Optical performance of LGRIN optics was shown to significantly reduce optical system mass, volume, and optical element count as compared to a commercial glass achromatic doublet while simultaneously improving performance. The LGRIN lens exhibits significantly smaller on-axis RMS spot radius of 2.8μ, compared to the glass doublet 3.5μ, with similar reduction off-axis as well, higher MTF, and better color correction while lowering total optic weight from 9.84g for the glass doublet to 3.80g in the same volume for LGRIN. LGRIN achromatic singlet fabrication and metrology is discussed within an accompanying manufacturing methodology overview of the LGRIN lens fabrication process. Additional information on the technology manufacturing/design space will be presented as a bridge toward SWaP advantages for incorporating the technology into more robust Vis-NIR optical systems and devices.
Howard Fein and Michael Ponting, "SWaP advantage of replacing high performance glass achromatic doublet with a polymeric nanolayer GRIN achromatic singlet," Proc. SPIE 10627, Advanced Optics for Defense Applications: UV through LWIR III, 106270B (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 15, 2018; Published: 8 May 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2304828.
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