Wheel polishing, a new optical fabrication technique, is proposed for super-smooth surface fabrication of optical components in high-precision optical instruments. The machining mechanism and the removal function contours are investigated in detail. The elastohydrodynamic lubrication theory is adopted to analyze the deformation of the wheel head, the pressure distribution, and the fluid film thickness distribution in the narrow machining zone. The pressure and the shear stress distributions at the interface between the slurry and the sample are numerically simulated. Practical polishing experiments are arranged to analyze the relationship between the wheel–sample distance and the machining rate. It is demonstrated in this paper that the wheel–sample distance will directly influence the removal function contours. Moreover, ripples on the wheel surface will eventually induce the transverse prints on the removal function contours. The surface roughness of fused silicon is reduced to less than 0.5 nm (rms) from initial 1.267 nm (rms). The wheel polishing technique is feasible for super-smooth surface fabrication.
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