The Center for Freeform Optics
An Industry/University Cooperative Research Center

Emerging CeFO Success Story: Miniature Imaging Spectrometer

Emerging CeFO Success Story: Miniature Imaging Spectrometer
The Center for Freeform Optics is proud to announce the ongoing success of the Miniature Imaging Spectrometer project, one of the Center’s top innovative research endeavors. The goal of this three-year collaborative project was to implement a miniature imaging spectrometer using novel freeform optics technology along with low cost precision manufacturing and assembly concepts.

The project utilized the strengths of both Center sites: The University of Rochester in Freeform Optical Design and Metrology and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Opto-mechanical Design and Precision Manufacturing. The project also included input from multiple CeFO members ranging from optical designers to manufacturers to end users. CeFO carried out the design and prototyping of this technology, which is five times smaller in volume than traditional designs while maintaining or improving upon optical performance. The approach shows that a concurrent approach of engineering and design is critical to identifying and overcoming challenges in the process chain for freeform optical systems with member organizations providing input on important decisions.

Key advantages of the Miniature Imaging Spectrometer:
Some of the main advantages of the Miniature Imaging Spectrometer project are the enabling of freeform optical systems from design to manufacture to measurement, testing and commercialization that benefit many industrial segments including aerospace, environment monitoring, ​photonics and scientific offering new levels of performance in much smaller packages.

Three-year progression from design concept to licensed patent:

Freeform optics allowed the miniaturization of a classical imaging spectrometer design by 5x without performance sacrifice.

Precision optical design and ultra-precision prototyping were completed, targeting and producing a final system that can fit in a human hand such as a baseball.

The technology was filed for a patent (15/168,015) and a member organization has licensed the technology with the intent to produce freeform spectrometers.