6 May 2009 Low cost molded optics for IR imaging
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Infrared sensors play a critical role in detection, guidance, and targeting in today's military systems and warfighter equipment, ranging from man-portable to space-borne. Although significant progress is being made in the development of IR imagers, another important component of IR sensors has not evolved significantly-the optics. Current IR lenses are primarily made of expensive single-crystal germanium with tedious mechanical fabrication operations that include grinding, polishing, and edging. There is an industry wide need for lower cost and higher performance IR lenses. Agiltron has developed a technology to directly mold IR lenses to net-shape without additional finishing operations. This manufacturing technology produces optics with many-fold reductions in cost, size, weight, and fabrication time. The ability to reproducibly manufacture aspheric optics with complex net-shapes reduces the number of lenses traditionally required for imaging systems, providing aberration correction as well as system weight and size reductions. Additionally, anti-reflective surfaces can be molded into the glass, eliminating the need for expensive AR coatings. This technology utilizes a new chalcogenide glass material that reduces temperature induced index of refraction changes to near zero, and has a thermal expansion coefficient similar to aluminum. The result is a new generation of low cost, high performance and thermally robust IR lens systems.
© (2009) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Jing Zhao, Vincent DiFilippo, Michael Li, "Low cost molded optics for IR imaging", Proc. SPIE 7298, Infrared Technology and Applications XXXV, 72983J (6 May 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.819939; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.819939

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