For many applications, especially for prototypes or first articles standardized optical components, off-the-shelf products are used frequently. However, these may differ in quality from batch to batch. The specification of these products can be very lean (e.g.: specifying “fused silica”) to very tight and specific, stating either a transmission graph or even specific material grade.
New users may not be aware of all the different properties that are relevant to the performance of a system made of fused silica components. Others may not be aware of different grades of fused silica more suitable to a specific application.
Often, system designers must balance performance (optical performance as well it’s contribution to systems performance) with overall cost. This can be a complex task, especially considering the various properties that are specified for different fused silica grades. To help with the selection of the optimal material, it has proven beneficial to perform the following steps:
- Select the used wavelength region
- Define the principal optical function (light transmission or reflection)
- Consider additional requirements (absorption, inclusions, bubbles, fluorescence)
While many optical properties are available in commercially available simulation software, some other properties may be inquired at the supplier. Heraeus measures many properties and is a good source of information for detailed questions about its fused quartz and fused silica grades.
More information on optical material grades
After the successful testing of a prototype, the optical design may be frozen or optimized for performance or cost. A task much easier, if the most relevant impact factors are known.