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Issues in Optics and Lenses for Imaging-Now
by Barry Mazor
Optics and lens manufacture are, of course, an aspect of imaging with a long history that goes back well before there were any electronics involved. By this stage of maturity, technology changes are not necessarily enormous in a given, short period. Nevertheless, optics is such a vital part of the ongoing imaging and vision equation that we've been gathering industry authorities in this arena annually to see what issues or market forces are on the minds of the manufacturers, OEMs and end-users now-and how they're being addressed. We've got two key manufacturers and an integrator with, a special optics interest to "report in."
WHO'S LEADING THE WAY?
Advanced Imaging: Is there a particular segment or segments of the imaging market-industrial vision, microscopy, medical, military, even business or consumer-that seem to be changing the demand or pushing the envelope for optics technology now, and how? Even if you don't see a segment "push" leader, per se, how different, on an ongoing basis, do you find the demands and needs of these application sectors?
John Stack, Edmund Industrial Optics: Markets that are integrating imaging into capital equipment or hand-held devices (semiconductor, biomedical, etc.) seem to be the most demanding from a technology and engineering point-of-view. Constant pressure to decrease package size, obtain higher resolution, and reduce costs can give even the best designers sleepless nights! We are also seeing an increased demand for true illumination analysis techniques to be used in limited space environments.
Stuart Singer, Schneider Optics: I currently see an increase in demand for lenses to be employed in ultra-high-precision non-contact metrology systems. Greater accuracy of measurement is being demanded by the end users regarding optical gauging/inspection, and that necessitates new lens designs. Specifically, lenses with geometric distortions in the micrometer region with large apertures (low f-numbers) that can image over large linear arrays (4, 6, 8k arrays) will have to be developed. Such demands will push the need to develop lenses with ultra-low distortion, large light gathering capabilities and large image plane coverage, to work equally well at numerous magnification ratios. This will present a technical challenge. Large aperture telecentric type lenses with the same listed parameters also fall into this segment of pushing the current limits of design and fabrication. It will be equally important and challenging to develop these lenses such that they are affordable to the end user.