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

The Freeform Roadmap

Realizing the potential of freeform optics requires development of new ‘manufacturing’ infrastructure, from design to system acceptance. CeFO is working to document the commercial readiness of the key technologies in its Roadmap.

The phrase “freeform optics” describes a multi-dimensional space in terms of applications:

  • Imaging,
  • Illumination,
  • Wavefront manipulation, etc.

at wavelengths from long wave infrared (LWIR ~10 mm) to extreme ultraviolet (EUV ~ 13 nm) and with tolerances and materials directly related to application wavelength.

The CeFO Roadmap aims to capture the current state of the art, indicating the commercial readiness range from “No known solution” to “Commercially available solutions”. This ranking does not map directly to Federal Technology Readiness levels (TRL) or Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRL), but indicates capabilities for generic mid-range systems.

The Roadmap takes two views of the technological landscape. First we view the breadth of choices and considerations involved in manufacturing a system based on freeform optics (see figure 1 below). Then we take slices through that space in terms of “process chains” that are currently used to produce some freeform optics (see figure 2 as an example). For each of the process chains, a summary process flow indicates current status. For each step in the process chain, alternatives are stated and an approximate indication of “readiness” provided. Each of these is discussed in more detail in the accompanying notes, with appropriate phase space diagrams indicating approximate applications limitations for the technologies discussed.

Many of the technologies and issues discussed in the Freeform Roadmap are relevant beyond freeform optic. For example, and array of aspheric elements for a computational imaging application pose many of the same manufacturing problems as a single freeform (and some others). This document focuses on freeform optics, although the discussion applies beyond that regime.

Freeform Optics Process Choices

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Freeform Optics Choices Locked

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Freeform Optics Process Chain

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Freeform Process Chain Locked

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