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Thin-film optical systems have evolved over the past several decades from simple metallic coatings to multilayer stacks of dielectric materials that are used to control the reflection, transmission, and absorption of light. Most interestingly, the optical performance of both the simple metallic and multilayer thin-film systems are described by the same optical interference principles. Many of our current commercial optical systems rely on thin-film coatings to optimize their performance and in some cases could not operate without them. Thin-film interference filters are responsible for the high-reflectance, antireflective, and band-control coatings that define the performance of optical elements used in high-power laser systems, high-quality binoculars, telescopes, cameras, displays, and many other applications. The thin-film coating industry is fast becoming a multibillion dollar market, which has created considerable interest and motivation for engineers and scientists to improve their understanding of thin-film optical coating design and synthesis.
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