Optical engineers make use of a wide range of sensors and controllers in optical systems. Photodetectors, cameras and actuator systems all use electronics and electrical control systems to operate. There are a wide range of manufacturers of electronics systems, but sometimes all we need is simple circuit to read a sensor or condition a signal. Whether the needed electronics are to support a photodiode or a strain gauge or just make a trigger to start several instruments simultaneously quite often the needed components are readily available on the bench. However, the how-to and confidence to start assembling the needed device may be lacking. Once a circuit has been assembled the question arises of how to properly check its operation and this may require the use of tools that maybe haven’t been touched since that one undergraduate circuits class that still causes those exam anxiety nightmares!
The first six chapters of Practical Electronics for Optical Engineering focuses on a wide range of circuits that are fundamental to understanding and working with electronics. This is supported by techniques for making electronic measurements and techniques for moving the data from the sensor through to a computer. The next seven chapters introduce electronic devices that are of interest to optical engineers and builds on the earlier work.
The book is designed so that you can get started on any chapter that catches your attention and as needed seek more specialized information from the earlier chapters as needed. Some examples of these interesting circuits are transimpedance amplifiers and drivers for low light photodiodes, using solar cells as a power source or battery charger, low resolution digital to analog converts, analog controllers, quad-cell processing and analog control circuits. Discussions on how to perform practical electronics, design, translating this to having circuit boards manufactured and the limitations of different prototyping approaches are included.
There are examples throughout the book ranging from simple calculations to sample MATLAB scripts. You are encouraged not only to work the examples and use the MATLAB code, but to construct and test the circuits. The aim of the MATLAB based examples is to support understanding the fundamentals and relationships behind the electronics and provide a starting point for your own code.
I hope that Practical Electronics for Optical Engineering provides the interested reader with a functional overview of the topic of electronics and an appreciation for how knowledge of electronics can enhance optical projects. While this book is not meant to be a complete treatise on electronics, as there are many excellent books on the topic, the aim here is to provide an introduction more closely tied to the needs of optical engineers.
I greatly appreciate all of the colleagues and friends that have both directly and indirectly helped me in preparing and writing this book and I am grateful for their unswerving and unselfish support. I also appreciate the feedback from the many students who over the years have helped me refine my optics and electronics lectures and laboratories. I am particularly grateful to my grandfather, Stephen Holmes Scott, who introduced me to electronics many years ago.
While I have benefited from the support of many individuals in preparing this work, any errors that remain in the text are mine to fix. I would appreciate receiving any assistance in this in the form of comments and corrections. Please direct any correspondence to the author c/o New Mexico Tech, Electrical Engineering Department, Socorro, NM 87801, USA.
I am most grateful for the support of SPIE for their interest in publishing this work as part of the Tutorial Text Series and particularly the efforts of Dara Burrows as editor, for putting this work into its final form.
Scott W. Teare
Professor of Electrical Engineering
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Socorro, New Mexico