October 24, 2018

Zemax featured in Electro Optics article: Small is beautiful

Zemax featured in Electro Optics article: Small is beautiful

Mapping to consumer demand, optical engineers are focused on making smaller and lighter optical systems for everything from cell phones to virtual reality headsets. In the October issue of Electro Optics, writer Barbara Stumpp explores the various techniques optical designers are using to shrink entire optical systems, requiring adjusted focal length and as few optical components as possible. Our own Zemax Europe Engineering Services Manager Chris Normanshire was interviewed for the piece.

Excerpt from “Small is beautiful” (Electro Optics)

Access the full article here>

Optical components can be reduced in size in several ways. The oldest method is to fold the beam path – this is how a telescope becomes binoculars. Another way is to make single-aperture systems into multi-aperture systems, as demonstrated by insect eyes, which consist of hundreds to tens of thousands of very small lenses. Each micro-lens focuses light on its receptor and each optical channel produces only one pixel; the sum of the signals from each channel provides the complete image. The insect can collect enough light to form an image without overloading the brain to make sense of the information.

Micro-optics make the optical system smaller, but these lenses are also becoming flatter – inspired, in part, by origami. In this concept, the light beam propagates within a sheet of optical fibre material in a zigzag path between optical elements on the bottom and top surfaces, providing very high-performance flat optics. Another way of making large heavy optics more compact is the Fresnel principle, which allows the transition to plan optics.

Ray tracing algorithms are used to simulate the path of the beam through optics. Ray tracers can specify how big the image angle, or the image area should be, along with tolerances to produce optical systems. But more is required from these algorithms. One challenge when dealing with small systems is packaging the components…

Chris Normanshire, Engineering Services Manager for Zemax Europe, said: “Ray tracing is valid down to a scale of around ten times the wavelength.” Zemax’ s OpticStudio is a widely used software tool to design optical systems. “For smaller objects, Zemax and Lumerical have jointly developed interoperable tools that allow engineers to simulate nano-optical effects using ray tracing and Maxwell equations,” Normanshire continued. “Thus, with a combination of Lumerical FDTD solutions and Zemax’ s OpticStudio, ultra-thin optical component meta-surfaces can be designed.”

Read the full article here >

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