Applications of aspheric optics

by | Mar 22, 2021 | Custom optics

Earlier we wrote about the best technologies for custom aspheric optics manufacturing. In today’s article we will take a closer look at some of the traditional applications of aspheric optics.

But first, a short recap, what are aspheric optics?

What are aspheric optics?

An aspheric optic is an optic with a shape other than a regular cylinder or sphere. Aspheric optics come in all sizes and shapes. The main usage of aspheric optics is to enhance image quality and to correct spherical aberrations.

Spherical aberration is a defect which occurs when light passes through a spherical optic. Light which enters the optic close to its edge will focus at a different distance, which will result in a blurry image. Aspheric lenses focus light into a single point, no matter where the light enters.

For many years custom aspheric optics have been used to both reduce spherical aberrations and improve system performance, but high manufacturing costs have made these optics quite expensive. However, nowadays modern manufacturing methods make it possible to receive your custom optics for an affordable price. Also, one aspheric lens can replace multiple spherical lenses, which may result in lighter weight, better performance and a more compact optical system, for the same costs.

Benefits of aspheric optics

As mentioned earlier aspheric optics help produce clear images and reduce visual defects (spherical aberration). These qualities are what make aspheric optics perfect for many applications, including cameras and laser devices.

By reducing spherical aberration aspheric optics create more clear images. This makes this type of optics perfect for applications where high precision is required.  One aspheric optic can correct aberrations that would otherwise take multiple optics to correct. This results in lightweight, more compact optical systems. Aperture size can be increased without reducing image quality, which is perfect for high light throughput applications.

Lets take a look at an example: a zoom lens with more then ten lens elements could make use of two aspheric optics instead. With two aspheric optics the same (or improved) performance can be achieved, while at the same time reducing weight, system size and thus overall costs.

Aspheric optics have been around for decades, but due to recent advances in aspheric optics grinding and polishing these optics have become more affordable. Due to these advancements aspheric optics are now more commonly used to reduce optical systems size and weight, while at the same time maintaining (or improving) the overall performance.

Aspheric optics: applications and usage

Aspheric lenses are most commonly used in applications where they need to control or reduce the size of an optical system. Aspheric optics commonly replace multi-lens systems, resulting in the same performance without unnecessary size expansion.

Examples of aspheric optics applications:

  • Cameras (e.g. in mobile devices)
  • Laser applications
  • General optical elements
  • Optical data storage
  • Fiber optics
  • Optical space technology

Custom or off-the-shelf aspheres?

For some applications off-the-shelves aspheric optics might suffice. However, aspheric optics have various additional parameters which can make it quite difficult to find the right off-the-shelf optic for your project. You might find off-the-shelf aspheric optics for standard optical tasks, but for many other applications custom optics are required.

Luckily, we have developed an optics manufacturing method which can help you with aspheric optics prototyping and manufacturing. Within 6 working days you can have your physical aspheric lens prototype. Our manufacturing method offers a cost-effective solution for custom optics manufacturing. Enabling full-design freedom, industry-grade material and lead-times of only 6 working days.

Check our datasheet for our most up-to-date capabilities and material properties, or reach out to us to discuss the possibilities.