Free-form optics promise improved optical system performance in all areas of imaging and illumination optics. Metrology tools with sufficient accuracy and manufacturing throughputs are limiting the adoption of free-form optics and their advantages, including meeting NASA’s goal of free-form X-Ray optics. The low coherence probe has demonstrated the potential to provide the metrology required but in order to increase the effective data rate new sources are desired. In this proposal we address this problem by introducing a new, mode hop insensitive source which would increase the acquisition rate by three orders of magnitude and simultaneously lower the cost. A free-form probe equipped with this new generation of sources would be able to effectively compete with full field interferometry at the same time bypassing a lot of its disadvantages.
Free-form optics enable small and lightweight imaging and projection optical systems required by NASA. Future NASA missions with alternative low-cost science and small-sized payloads are constrained by the traditional optics. These could benefit greatly by free-form optics as they provide superior imaging and lightweight components to meet the mission requirements. This application aims to enable those optics to be manufactured to the required tolerances (impossible today) to enable free-form optics to be used as envisioned.
Free-form optics in non-NASA applications is limited by the lack of high performance metrology. Cell phones, tablets, computers, remote cameras, machine vision, security and defense, and illumination systems will benefit from free-forms with smaller packaging, lighter weight and better imaging qualities. This technology, precision metrology, promises to make free-form optics commercially viable.