Optical beam splitters are a special class of optic that perform a simple function. Optical beam splitters simply take a single input laser beam and split it up into multiple copies with all of the copies coming out of the optic at some angle. This angle as well as the number of beams created can be controlled by controlling the shape, size, and spacing of the micro structures that cause the optical beam splitters to do their job.
What do optical beam splitters look like? Take a look at the picture above that shows a 0.6 micron pitch (center to center spacing distance) and a 0.3 micron depth. That is what they look like, very often just parallel grooves in a material.
There are many different types of materials used in creating optical beam splitters. Many are made using glass of one type or another. The glass type are often used in a wide variety of applications such as spectrometers, medical equipment, and industrial equipment. Glass will usually be chosen because of its dimensional stability and it's ability to handle higher energies.
Optical beam splitters are also made from plastics. Some of the tiny optics that allow your DVD and CD players to work are actually diffractive optical beam splitters which allow most of the energy to go to the disc but part of the energy is diverted into a separate tracking beam.
How do you make them? They can be made by using many different manufacturing processes. One of the most popular is by plastics injection molding. When using this method, a mold with the proper structure for the optical beam splitters is first created. The mold goes into the injection molding machine and the optical beam splitters are molded from any one of a variety of optical plastics (polycarbonate, acrylic or PMMA, cyclo olefins, etc). These processes are all highly automated with human hands being kept away from the parts so that oils from the skin and other contaminants are minimized. Robots will typically remove the optical beam splitters from the mold and place them in handling trays so that they can be transported their next destination without direct contact.
If the optical beam splitters need to be made from glass, then diamond milling is a good way of manufacturing the product. Diamond milling offers very tight control over the shape of the stuctures that allow the optical beam splitters to do their job. Glass molding is another very effective way of making large numbers of glass optical beam splitters at relatively low cost and in a short delivery time.
Whether it's plastic or glass, one part or huge volumes, Nalux has the equipment and the expertise to provide you with the best optical beam splitters money can buy.
NALUX NANO OPTICAL, INC.
65 E.State Street, Suit2000
Columbus, Ohio 43215
c/o Schneider Downs
"Lighting a path to the future with nano-optics."