Mirrors and metal optics are a vital part of many optical systems and Nalux has the equipment and expertise needed to create these optics to meet our customer's specifications. Mirrors and metal optics are almost always reflective in nature and are often chosen for one of two main reasons:
1. There are physical stresses on the optical system or it is being used in an environment where it can be expected to receive some harsh treatment.
2. There are thermal considerations, such as a high power laser being used, that may cause a transmissive optic such as a glass to either heat up to unacceptable temperatures or else the input energy can cause the optic to degrade so mirrors and metal optics are the answer.
As a strict definition, mirrors are an object with at least one highly polished surface. This polished surface usually has a metallic coating applied and then a protective coating is often applied over the metal coating in order to protect the metal coating from being scratched off. The metal coating is often applied by either a process known as sputter coating or by vacuum deposition coating. Nalux has both coating processes available for making mirrors.
Many inexpensive mirrors can be made from plastic as a core material. One side of the plastic mold has a very high polish applied so that this very smooth polished surface is imparted to the molded plastic parts. After molding, the plastic mirrors are sent to coating where the metallic and protective coatings are applied with the end result being high quality and inexpensive mirrors. Another benefit of plastic mirrors is that multiple optical functions can be incorporated into the mirrors as opposed to just reflecting light. For example, by molding a curvature into mirrors you not only reflect the light but you can also focus it. Additionally, if you superimpose a diffraction grating over the the surfaces of curved mirrors, you can reflect the light, focus it, and even create diffraction and interference patterns. All of these things have their uses further making mirrors and metal optics as indispensible parts of optical systems.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes these mirrors are going to see significant stresses, either physical or thermal. In these situation, metal optics are needed. A metal optic often uses a metal that is amenable to a very high polish, gold being a very common choice for these exotic and demanding applications which are very often found in the aerospace or military arenas. As you can imagine, a gold optic is also a very expensive optic so like in every other application the quality and performance of the mirrors required must be balanced against the cost in order to arrive at a metal optic that does the job but doesn't make a project too expensive. These metal optics are often fabricated by either focused ion beam ablation or by a diamond turning or diamond milling operation and Nalux has all three of these capabilities available to our customers so that we can be a one stop shop not only for transmissive optics but also for the best mirrors and metal optics 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."