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Design for Alignment

1. INTRODUCTION

The premise of this paper is that the only remaining way to improve optical system performance is with better alignment techniques. We feel optical design is a mature field and that little can be done to improve the design of optical systems by improvements to lens design software. The software may become easier or more convenient to use but the optical designs produced are near optimum given the design constraints specifying the system.

The same holds for the manufacture of optical elements. Between computer controlled manufacturing methods and interferometric testing of the manufactured elements and the many improvements in optical glass quality, not many avenues are open to improved quality of the optical components themselves. The only area left for improvement in performance of precision, or high quality, optical systems is the assembly and alignment of the glass elements and mirrors into mechanical cells, and lens benches, for more complex system geometries.

Based on this premise we will first define our concept of what precision optical alignment means and why traditional methods of alignment have not kept up with the improvements in lens design and the manufacture of high quality optical elements. We contrast traditional methods with more modern methods of optical alignment that make use of optical datums rather than mechanical datums and show the advantages of the optical methods.

Next, we show some advances in the optical methods of alignment including newer optical alignment tools and tooling including gratings that define axes in 5 degrees of freedom and how these make alignment easier. Finally, we look at the implications of these newer methods on how the opto-mechanics of cell and lens bench design are impacted so that tolerances can be loosened while achieving improved optical system performance. While this applies largely to precision optics manufacture, there are aspects of this approach that are applicable to production assembly as well.

Case Studies & Testimonials

  • Sometimes good news goes unnoticed for the longest time. We just stumbled on this unattributed, but complimentary note about the PSM.
    See  https://www.idex-hs.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Enabling-Micron-Level-Mounting-Accuracy.pdf   

    Notice the PSM in the top center of Fig. 9.  Optical Perspectives Group would like to express "thank you, IDEX".

  • "We are enjoying our Point Source Microscope and finding it invaluable in alignment and diagnostic tasks."

    Dr. John Mitchell
    Senior Optical Metrologist
    Glyndwr Innovations Ltd., St. Asaph, Wales, UK

     

  • "Just wanted to share a recent success aligning an adaptive optics test bed with the PSM. We used to use a traditional alignment telescope in the past, but the PSM made the whole process really easy and fast. The main requirements were to quickly determine the quality of beam collimation and pupil conjugates since there are several beam expanders and compressors with multiple pupil and focal planes."

    Suresh Sivanandam
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics
    University of Toronto

     

  • "You are always responsive and give us lots of useful information!!"

    Dr. Shaojie Chen
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics
    University of Toronto

     

  • "As always we are very much loving the instrument, I personally love the camera upgrade from what I'm used to!"

    Weslin Pullen
    Hart Scientific Consulting International, LLC
    Tucson, Arizona

     

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