Services - Optical Engineering and Prototyping

Ball-lens design fabricated by DFC

Zemax lens performance information

Optical Design

Our team is able to design complex, custom optical systems for your scientific or industrial needs. We have experience designing conventional lens systems, mirrors, aspheres, freeform optics, fresnel lenses, and more. See our folded optics for examples of many aspheric mirrors we have designed and tested, and the JPL Folded Microscope for information on our current work. Designs are typically developed using Zemax and FRED, and are also modeled mechanically in Creo Parametric and SolidWorks to ensure proper integration into the larger system design.

Distant Focus Corporation's broad expertise in optics and opto-mechanics includes design, system fabrication, alignment, and assembly. This encompasses the integration and automation of motorized mechanical translators and other electronic instrumentation as required. Together with our Mechanical engineering services, this allows us to complete full system designs and build prototypes of complex optomechanical systems. Using our software and electrical expertise, Distant Focus can also provide computerized control for optical system automation with scripted controls using MATLAB or a custom interface written in Python, Java, Lua, or C/C++.

500FG diamond turning & microgrinding machine

Precision optical assembly in our cleanroom

Decapping an Omnivision CMOS sensor

Optical Prototyping

When possible, DFC sub-contracts with one of our optics vendors for fabrication and coating of glass, plastic, and metallic optical elements. For unusual or novel fabrication work, we have in-house optical prototyping equipment for process development. Our in-house optical grinding and turning is done using our 4+1-axis Nanotechâ„¢ 500FG and Engis precision lapping station. We also prepare parts for finishing using our vertical grinder and diamond-sawing stations. Optical metrology is performed using our Zygo Verifireâ„¢, our Nikon measurescope, and a variety of custom systems we have designed and built.

Distant Focus is also equipped for precision optical assembly, including assemblies that must be performed in a cleanroom environment. We have a great deal of experience with challenging assemblies, including working with and bonding to bare sensor silicon. We have performed active alignment of optics based off of sensor image-metrics on systems with very tight tolerances. We have also used our Nikon measurescope / CMM for optical alignment. We have several different UV-cure systems to handle UV optical epoxies and programmable ovens for multi-stage thermal-curing.

In addition, DFC can remove the sensor coverglass of most image sensors using a variety of methods, which can be very useful for some advanced optical designs. This allows mating optical glass or other materials directly to the sensor silicon and can eliminate the effects of the sensor micro-lenses if desired.

Finally, Distant Focus is well equipped for optical breadboarding setups using our large collection of stages and other optomechanical equipment. This allows us to perform extensive characterization work on many different optical systems. Our expertise in optical and laser alignment lets us build precise testing systems to handle any project.