Thomas W. Drueding Boston Univ. (United States) Steven C. Fawcett Summit Technology, Inc. (United States) Scott R. Wilson Sandia Systems, Inc. (United States) Thomas G. Bifano Boston Univ. (United States)
Ion beam figuring provides a highly deterministic method for the final precision figuring of optical components with advantages over conventional methods. The process involves bombarding a component with a stable beam of accelerated particles that selectively removes material from the surface. Figure corrections are achieved by rastering the fixed-current beam across the workpiece at appropriate, time-varying yelocities. Unlike conventional methods, ion figuring is a noncontact technique and thus avoids such problems as edge rolloff effects, tool wear, and force loading of the workpiece. This work is directed toward the development of the precision ion machining system at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. This system is designed for processing small (≈ 10-cm diam) optical components. Initial experiments were successful in figuring 8-cm-diam fused silica and chemical-vapor-deposited SiC samples. The experiments, procedures, and results of figuring the sample workpieces to shallow spherical, parabolic (concave and convex), and non-axially-symmetric shapes are discussed. Several difficulties and limitations encountered with the current system are discussed. The use of a 1-cm aperture for making finer corrections on optical components is also reported.