Material costs and prototyping limitations have presented challenges to manufacturers trying to work with advanced optical designs. As the demand for IR optics rapidly increased in recent years, it drove material costs higher and put a strain on supplies. These changes caused a shift in material selection for thermal applications. Germanium has long been the traditional choice for IR system development, but the search for cost-effective, high-performing alternatives has led to advancements using chalcogenide glasses.
The options for rapid prototyping of optics and assemblies are expanding across the board. With advances in diamond turning of chalcogenides, small runs of even IR optics are becoming faster and more affordable.
In optics, manufacturability is heavily dependent on product design and material selection. Whether a product has a complex or simple design, the material used to create the lens will determine performance, cost, volume and several other factors. With a variety of materials and manufacturing methods available, how does a company determine the material that will provide the best outcome?
When he isn't working on his motorcycle collection or renovating a house, Dr. George Lindberg takes on the role of Glass Projects Manager at Rochester Precision Optics (RPO). George received his Ph.D in High Pressure Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Buffalo before joining the RPO team in 2014.
RPO has been awarded a grant from the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) to pursue chalcogenide glass IR optic development for quantum cascade lasers.
RPO, after successful completion of Phase 1 STTR, seeks to develop a fast axis collimating lens for quantum cascade lasers (QCL), which are tunable to emit in the full infrared range. Because primary applications are wide, the lenses must withstand the stress of both continuous wave and pulsed laser emission. Lenses for this application are not known to currently exist, making RPO first in the industry to achieve a working prototype.