The design and performance characteristics of a novel Acousto Optic Tunable Filter (AOTF) are presented. Particular
attention has been paid to the reduction of optical side lobes, maximising the light throughput and achieving efficient
wideband RF matching of a device for use in hyperspectral imaging systems.
Conventional AOTFs are known to yield an optical pass band with side lobes at unacceptable levels of ~-10dB relative to
the transmission peak. It is known that shaping the acoustic beam ("apodisation") can suppress the side lobe transmission
of the AOTF and improve its imaging capabilities. Results of a novel electrode apodisation pattern are presented,
reducing sidelobes to ~-25dB. This produces an AOTF which is capable of being placed in a diffraction limited optical
system and introduces negligible amounts of image degradation.
The large transducer area (associated with the large optical aperture) and acoustic impedance mismatch between the AO
substrate (TeO<sub>2</sub>) and transducer (LiNbO<sub>3</sub>) pose a challenge in achieving wideband RF performance. Acoustic mismatch
between substrate and transducer has been addressed by the introduction of a special acoustic matching layer in the bond.
The layer reduces dispersion in the transducer impedance easing broadband matching.
The transducer has a low (<1 Ohm) radiation resistance which must be matched to the RF driver (typically 50 ohms).
This very low impedance may be swamped by the parasitic impedances of the electrode, bond layers and wire bonds
used for electrical connection. Thus, the transducer is split into series-connected sections to increase the "bare"
impedance. We present results to show the performance increase that can be obtained this way.