25 September 2014 Experimental characterization of variable output refractive beamshapers using freeform elements
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Abstract
We present experimental results from variable output refractive beam shapers based on freeform optical surfaces. Two freeform elements in close proximity comprise a beam shaper that maps a circular Gaussian input to a circular ‘flat-top’ output. Different lateral relative shifts between the elements result in a varying output diameter while maintaining the uniform irradiance distribution. We fabricated the beam shaping elements in PMMA using multi-axis milling on a Moore Nanotech 350FG diamond machining center and tested with a 632.8 nm Gaussian input. Initial optical testing confirmed both the predicted beam shaping and variable functionality, but with poor output uniformity. The effects of surface finish on optical performance were investigated using LightTrans VirtualLabTM to perform physical optics simulations of the milled freeform surfaces. These simulations provided an optimization path for determining machining parameters to improve the output uniformity of the beam shaping elements. A second variable beam shaper based on a super-Gaussian output was designed and fabricated using the newly determined machining parameters. Experimental test results from the second beam shaper showed outputs with significantly higher quality, but also suggest additional areas of study for further improvements in uniformity.
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Jason A. Shultz, Paul J. Smilie, Brian S. Dutterer, Matthew A. Davies, Thomas J. Suleski, "Experimental characterization of variable output refractive beamshapers using freeform elements", Proc. SPIE 9194, Laser Beam Shaping XV, 91940M (25 September 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2062030; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2062030
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