Abstract

Wet-etch figuring utilizes free surface flows driven by surface tension gradients (the Marangoni effect) to confine and stabilize the size and shape of an etchant droplet attached to the underside of a glass surface. This droplet, or wetted zone, is translated on the surface, etching where it contacts and leaving behind no residue, to facilitate an etching-based small-tool figuring process that is free of mechanical and thermal stresses. The optic needs no backing plate, and its back side is free for inspection by optical means. When transmissive optics is figured, the optical thickness between the front and the rear surfaces of the optic is measured interferometrically and used in real time to control the local dwell time of the etchant zone. This truly closed-loop figuring process is robust, environmentally insensitive, and fully automated. It is particularly suited for figuring patterns such as phase plates, corrective elements, and optical flats on very thin (≪1-mm) substrates that are difficult to figure with traditional abrasive polishing methods.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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