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Optical Design & Engineering

On-site large optics cleaning

JST Manufacturing

JST Manufacturing

For sensitive optics used in astronomy, research or powerful laser applications, cleaning is usually required to ensure accuracy and stability. Pristine optics are vital to a variety of applications, ranging from keeping missiles on track to ensuring the accuracy of laser systems used for exploring new sources of clean energy.

Pristine optics require cleaning lenses with the correct chemical baths via the appropriate media, whether with bench-type processing stations or customized systems that enable thorough cleaning in place -- without moving optical devices to maintenance facilities.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility, each of NIF's 192 laser beams is supported by an array of optics -- up to 50 lenses for each beam -- depending on the type of experiment being performed.

"The cleanliness of our optics is crucial to our ability to produce maximum fluency (energy in joules) that is required to perform many tests," explains Patrick Williams, NIF optics maintenance manager.Maintaining the large inventory of optics required the development of a unique lens-cleaning tool. In order to accomplish that task, LLNL partnered with JST Manufacturing (Boise, ID).

"Our engineers suggested that rather than transport these heavy optics for such functions, we could simply transport the chemistry (solutions) to the optics in a fixed location," explains Louise Bertagnolli, president of JST. "We also designed a sling-like device to hold the optics and also let technicians rotate them during the inspection process."

Bertagnolli feels that like other cleaning devices, whether simple or fully automated, the ability of the cleaning system vendor to innovate, even if it means going beyond the RFP, creates more efficient solutions.