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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 40, Iss. 19 — Jul. 1, 2001
  • pp: 3225–3231

Optical design using computer graphics

Joseph M. Howard  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 40, Issue 19, pp. 3225-3231 (2001)

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For decades the computer has been the primary tool used for optical design. Typical tasks include performing numerical calculations for ray tracing and analysis and rendering graphics for system drawings. As machines become faster with each new generation, the time needed for a particular design task has greatly reduced, allowing multiple assignments to be performed with little noticeable delay. This lets the designer modify a system and then immediately see the results rendered in graphics with a single motion. Such visual design methods are discussed here, where graphics of systems and plots relating to their performance are produced in real time, permitting the optical designer to design by pictures. Three examples are given: an educational tutorial for designing a simple microscope objective, an unobstructed reflective telescope composed of three spherical mirrors, and a modified Offner relay with an accessible pupil.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(080.2740) Geometric optics : Geometric optical design
(220.3620) Optical design and fabrication : Lens system design
(220.4830) Optical design and fabrication : Systems design
(350.4600) Other areas of optics : Optical engineering

Original Manuscript: September 29, 2000
Revised Manuscript: March 19, 2001
Published: July 1, 2001

Joseph M. Howard, "Optical design using computer graphics," Appl. Opt. 40, 3225-3231 (2001)

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  1. For an example of a systematic global search, see J. M. Howard, B. D. Stone, “Imaging a point with two spherical mirrors,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 15, 3045–3056 (1998).
  2. OSLO is a registered trademark of Lambda Research Corporation, 80 Taylor Street, P.O. Box 1400, Littleton, Mass. 01460.
  3. B. D. Stone, “Supplement to lecture notes: lens design example,” in Geometrical Optics, The Institute of Optics Summer Course Series (University of Rochester, Rochester N.Y., 1999).
  4. J. M. Howard, B. D. Stone, “Imaging with three spherical mirrors,” Appl. Opt. 39, 3216–3231 (2000). [CrossRef]
  5. In a plane symmetric system there are two focal lengths: one for rays in the plane of symmetry and one for rays outside of the plane of symmetry. Also, it is possible for rays in the plane of symmetry to be defocused from rays out of the plane of symmetry, causing what I refer to as first-order blur. Thus four constraints are needed to control each of these first-order properties.
  6. For a summary of the yardstick design of the NIRCAM on the NGST, see Chap. 7 of The Next Generation Space Telescope: Visiting a Time When Galaxies Were Young, H. S. Stockman, ed., 2nd ed. (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Washington, D.C., 1998).
  7. A. Offner, “Unit power imaging catoptric anastigmat,” U.S. patent3,748,015 (24July1973).

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