Abstract

The performance of optical systems is typically improved by increasing the number of conventionally fabricated optical components (spheres, aspheres, and gratings). This approach is automatically connected to a system enlargement, as well as potentially higher assembly and maintenance costs. Hybrid optical freeform components can help to overcome this trade-off. They merge several optical functions within fewer but more complex optical surfaces, e.g., elements comprising shallow refractive/reflective and high-frequency diffractive structures. However, providing the flexibility and precision essential for their realization is one of the major challenges in the field of optical component fabrication. In this article we present tailored integrated machining techniques suitable for rapid prototyping as well as the fabrication of molding tools for low-cost mass replication of hybrid optical freeform components. To produce the different feature sizes with optical surface quality, we successively combine mechanical machining modes (ultraprecision micromilling and fly cutting) with precisely aligned direct picosecond laser ablation in an integrated fabrication approach. The fabrication accuracy and surface quality achieved by our integrated fabrication approach are demonstrated with profilometric measurements and experimental investigations of the optical performance.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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