Ion beam figuring (IBF) technology for small scale optical components is discussed. Since the small removal function can be obtained in IBF, it makes computer-controlled optical surfacing technology possible to machine precision centimeter- or millimeter-scale optical components deterministically. Using a small ion beam to machine small optical components, there are some key problems, such as small ion beam positioning on the optical surface, material removal rate, ion beam scanning pitch control on the optical surface, and so on, that must be seriously considered. The main reasons for the problems are that it is more sensitive to the above problems than a big ion beam because of its small beam diameter and lower material ratio. In this paper, we discuss these problems and their influences in machining small optical components in detail. Based on the identification–compensation principle, an iterative machining compensation method is deduced for correcting the positioning error of an ion beam with the material removal rate estimated by a selected optimal scanning pitch. Experiments on Zerodur planar and spherical samples are made, and the final surface errors are both smaller than measured by a Zygo GPI interferometer.
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