NASA has identified freeform optics as an integral part of their future optical systems. Reducing the cost of freeforms will be crucial in accelerating the integration of freeforms into cost-sensitive NASA optical systems. One method to reduce cost is to reduce the metrology time needed to characterize the freeforms. This is especially true when measuring the mid-spatial frequency errors induced during the manufacturing process. Current methods are tactile measurement devices such as a coordinate measurement machine and profilometers. These metrology methods slow the manufacturing process and therefore increase cost. The goal of this NASA Phase 1 SBIR is to develop and investigate a unique deflectometry enclosure to improve efficiency of the manufacturing of freeform optics. This proposed innovation is a multi-camera multi-monitor deflectometry system that can be integrated into manufacturing. It would increase efficiency of the freeform manufacturing process by greatly reducing the time to measure the mid-spatial frequency errors of the freeform part and therefore would reduce the time and cost of freeform manufacturing.
Freeform based optical systems provide better optical performance in smaller footprint. NASA applications include: Exo-planet imaging systems - Freeform optics would improve performance with fewer optics in a smaller footprint. LUVOIR Ultraviolet Multi Object Spectrograph - Operating in the UV would require fewer optics in as smaller package. Origins Space Telescope (OST) - This telescope operating in the infrared High performance freeform optics would solve the requirement of
Freeforms: Freeform optics are quickly becoming part of many commercial and military optical systems. Many optical designers are starting to use freeform optics to achieve optical performance (less aberrations), lighter weight optical systems through a reduced number of components, and an increased ability to go off axis with smaller and tighter packages. Examples of commercial uses of freeforms include:
*Heads-up displays, *Compact imaging systems, *Augmented and Virtual reality display systems