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Spie Press Book

Optical Engineering Fundamentals, Second Edition
Author(s): Bruce H. Walker
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Book Description

Expand your knowledge of optical engineering fundamentals by taking the SPIE course Basic Optics for Non-Optics Personnel, with instructor Kevin Harding. Click here to register.

This classic Tutorial Text provides a basic understanding of many fundamental optical principles. The Second Edition has been updated to reflect the development of electronic sensors, as well as the advent of mainstream consumer optical products. Chapters also emphasize the application of state-of-the-art computer software to generate solutions to related lens design and optimization problems.

This is an ideal textbook for introductory courses at advanced high school and college levels. For those who proceed to work in the field of optical engineering, this book will provide a convenient source of valuable, basic reference material.


Book Details

Date Published: 8 January 2009
Pages: 294
ISBN: 9780819475404
Volume: TT82

Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Historical Review
2.1 Definition of Optical Engineering
2.2 Ancient History
2.3 Medieval Optics
2.4 From 1600 to the 1900s
2.5 Speed of Light
2.6 Modern Optical Engineering
2.7 Case History: Optics in the United States
2.8 Recent Incident: the Hubble Telescope
2.9 Review and Summary
3. Basic Concepts of Light
3.1 Light: an Elusive Topic
3.2 Understanding Light
3.3 Velocity, Wavelength, and Frequency
3.4 Wavefronts and Light Rays
3.5 Light Sources
3.6 Behavior of Light Rays
3.7 Refraction
3.8 Refraction by a Lens
3.9 Dispersion and Color
3.10 Diffraction of Light
3.11 Review and Summary
4. Thin-Lens Theory
4.1 Definition of Thin Lens
4.2 Properties of a Thin Lens
4.3 Aperture Stop, Entrance and Exit Pupils, and Field Stop
4.4 Reference Coordinate System
4.5 Thin-Lens Power
4.6 Ray Trace of a Thin Lens (Object at Infinity)
4.7 Ray Trace of a Thin Lens (Finite Object Distance)
4.8 Rounding Off
4.9 Thin-Lens Formulas
4.10 Applications of Thin-Lens Theory
4.11 Mock-up of the Thin-Lens System
4.12 Review and Summary
5. Optical Design Basics
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Historical Perspective
5.3 OSLO Optical Design Software Package
5.4 Introduction to Computer Design using OSLO
5.5 Laser Transmitting System
5.6 Instrument Design and Analysis
5.7 Magnification Analysis
5.8 Design of a Noncatalog System
5.9 Review and Summary
6. Primary Lens Aberrations
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Spot Diagram, Radial Energy Distribution, and Modulation Transfer Function
6.3 Spherical Aberration
6.4 Coma
6.5 Field Curvature
6.6 Astigmatism
6.7 Distortion
6.8 Axial Color
6.9 Lateral Color
6.10 Aberration Curves
6.11 Point-Spread Function Analysis
6.12 Review and Summary
7. Optical Components
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Lens
     7.2.1 Typical lens application
     7.2.2 Detail lens drawing
7.3 Mirror
     7.3.1 Common reflecting coatings
     7.3.2 Other mirror configurations
7.4 Prisms
     7.4.1 Total internal reflection
     7.4.2 Typical prism application
7.5 Review and Summary
8. Basic Optical Instruments
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Magnifier, or Loupe
8.3 Eyepiece
8.4 Microscope
8.5 Telescope
8.6 Binoculars
8.7 Riflescope
8.8 Surveying and Optical Tooling Instruments
8.9 Periscope, Borescope, and Endoscope
8.10 Review and Summary
9. Optical Materials and Coatings
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Optical Glass
9.3 Low-Expansion Materials
9.4 Surface Losses and Antireflection Coatings
9.5 Materials for Infrared Systems
     9.5.1 Germanium
     9.5.2 Silicon
     9.5.3 Zinc sulfide
     9.5.4 Zinc selenide
9.6 Optical Plastics
9.7 Review and Summary
10. Visual Optical System
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Structure of the Eye
10.3 Resolution of the Eye
10.4 Visual Instrument Design Considerations
10.5 Visual Instrument Focus
10.6 Visual Instrument Detailed Lens Design
10.7 Review and Summary
11. Lens Design and Evaluation
11.1 Introduction
11.2 Lens Design Process
11.3 10× Telescope Design
     11.3.1 Defining the problem
     11.3.2 Selecting a starting point
     11.3.3 Modifying the starting point
     11.3.4 Optimizing the modified starting design
     11.3.5 Evaluating performance
     11.3.6 Documenting the final design
11.4 Precision Collimator Lens Design
     11.4.1 Defining the problem
     11.4.2 Selecting a starting point
     11.4.3 Modifying the starting point
     11.4.4 Optimizing the modified starting design
     11.4.5 Evaluating performance
     11.4.6 Documenting the final design
11.5 Precision Imager Lens Design
     11.5.1 Defining the problem
     11.5.2 Selecting a starting point
     11.5.3 Modifying the starting point
     11.5.4 Optimizing the modified starting design
     11.5.5 Evaluating performance
     11.5.6 Documenting the final design
11.6 Unusual Lens Design Task
11.7 Review and Summary
12. Optics in Our World
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Optical Illusions: Size
12.3 Other Optical Illusions
12.4 Seeing the Third Dimension
12.5 Optics and the Compact Disk
12.6 Optics and the Projection TV
12.7 Optics and Photography
12.8 Optics of the Rainbow
12.9 Review and Summary
Appendix A Basic Optical Engineering Library
Appendix B Optical Design Software Sources
Appendix C Optical Glass Sources
Appendix D Conversion Factors and Constants
Appendix E Measures and Equivalents
Appendix F Basic Photometric Considerations
Appendix G Surface Sag and Conic Sections

Preface to the First Edition

The concept of this book, along with many of the ideas and much of the material contained here, has evolved over the last 25 years. During that time, while working in the field of optical engineering and lens design, I have frequently been called on to describe and explain certain optical theories or phenomenon to coworkers or readers of trade publications. In responding, my goal has always been to reduce these explanations to the most basic technical level, one that is easily comprehensible. The value of this book, then, is not in bringing forth new information never previously available to the reader. Rather, it is a carefully thought-out selection of material that I feel will be of maximum interest and value to the reader. The material will be presented in a form that can be easily understood in the absence of complex theories of mathematics and physics.

The field of optical engineering and the subject of optics in general are not merely interesting, but often quite fascinating. In order to be a good optical engineer, one must have a sincere interest and curiosity about the subject. This must then be supplemented by a fundamental knowledge of just a few very basic principles that will allow that curiosity to be satisfied. This book is designed to assist the student or worker who is interested and involved in the field of optics to obtain a better understanding of those basic principles and to prepare the reader for the more complex topics that will be encountered using more advanced, specialized textbooks and reference material.

Thanks to the extraordinary nature of the human visual system and the many wonders of the world in which we live, hardly a day passes that we are not exposed to the science of optics, albeit often without a full understanding of what we are experiencing. Consider modern technology like home television systems that include projection TVs, laser disks, and compact camcorders. In the case of home audio systems, consider the compact laser disk revolution that, in just a few short years, has made the traditional phonograph record essentially obsolete. Consider also the optical technology that has been demonstrated by the space and defense industries in recent years. We have been privileged to view pictures from space and from distant planets. Military conflicts have been decided by the use of "smart" bombs, laser sights, and head-up displays . . . all sophisticated products of today's optical engineer.

These are wonders of our own making. We need only observe a colorful sunset, or view a rainbow, to witness some of the many optical wonders of nature. Of course we would not observe this or anything else were it not for the most amazing of nature's optical systems: the human eye and its associated physiological components. It is my sincere hope that this book will, in some small way, make it possible for readers to understand and appreciate many of these things, so that they might feel more a part of all that goes on around them, especially as it relates to the science of optics and the field of optical engineering.

If you work in the field of optics, I'm certain you will find that a better understanding of the subject will serve to improve your basic skills. In addition, I believe it will also enhance your enjoyment of not just your work, but hopefully of life in general. Equally important, it is this understanding that makes it possible for us to share these experiences with others.

One goal of this book is to demonstrate that there are many aspects of the science of optics and the field of optical engineering that are not that difficult to understand. Until now, the majority of texts and other publications in this field have assumed a certain level of understanding and proceeded from that point. In some 25 years of work as an optical engineer, which has included the preparation and presentation of numerous technical papers and articles for a variety of publications, I have encountered a very real need, and a sincere desire on the part of many, to obtain that information required in order to reach that assumed level of understanding. This book is presented in the belief that it will serve to meet that need and to quench that desire.

Bruce H. Walker
November 1994

Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of Optical Engineering Fundamentals (OEF) reflected my experience and exposure to the history of optical engineering as I witnessed it during 25 years of work within the optics industry. All of these work assignments involved the usual team structures, where the range of duties and responsibilities of the optical engineer were quite limited.

In the years 1992 through 2008, I continued to work actively as an independent consultant in the fields of optical engineering, lens design, and optical-mechanical systems design. This second edition of OEF reflects much of what I have learned during this more recent personal work experience, with emphasis on the application of state-of-the-art computer software to generate solutions to related lens design and optimization problems. While all lens design examples presented involve the use of the OSLO software package (Lambda Research, Littleton, MA), it must be made clear that competitive software packages, such as ZEMAX, Code V, and others, can be applied to generate similar results.

All of this consulting work has required a more complete and thorough understanding of the optical engineering, design, and manufacturing process. Many of the changes and additions contained in this second edition reflect that increased scope of work.

Another area that has witnessed significant changes in recent years includes computer systems and software for optical design and analysis. This second edition of OEF contains a chapter dealing with the OSLO-EDU software package. It is hoped that all interested readers, regardless of their professional responsibilities, will find that being familiar with tools like OSLO-EDU will permit them to do a better job.

The early chapters of OEF deal with basic concepts that remain unchanged. This edition will expand on those concepts and improve on the effectiveness of the presentations.

Subsequent portions of this edition deal with specific optical components, instruments, and systems. These topics are updated to reflect recent developments in those areas, in particular, the development of electronic sensors and how they impact the work of the optical engineer.


One of the many advantages of a career in the field of optical engineering is the assurance that one will encounter a wide variety of very talented and interesting people in the course of one's work. As a young fledgling engineer at General Electric in the early 1960s, my interest in optics and lens design was sparked and nurtured by three such individuals. For their early and sustained inspiration and support, I would like to thank Dr. Jack Mauro, Mr. Bob Sparling, and Mr. Don Kienholz.

I would like to dedicate this second edition of Optical Engineering Fundamentals to the memory of Warren J. Smith, who passed away earlier this year. In 1968, while at General Electric Co., I completed an in-house course on basic optics. The text used was Modern Optical Engineering by Warren J. Smith. This book was my introduction to optical engineering, and it would have a profound impact on the remainder of my professional life. Later that year I submitted my first article for publication in Optical Spectra. While I was already quite proud of being published, that pride increased exponentially when I received a personal note from Warren complimenting my work. Twenty-five years later, while searching (without much luck) for a publisher of Optical Engineering Fundamentals, I contacted Warren for advice. He quickly reviewed my proposal and put me on the fast track with the people at McGraw-Hill, where my book was published in 1994. Warren was a great engineer, a good friend, and a wonderful person. We will all miss him.

In addition, I would like to thank the staff at SPIE, especially those in the publications department, for their enthusiastic and effective support over the years.

Bruce H. Walker
Walker Associates
July 2008

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