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Proceedings Paper

Liquid mirrors: a new technology for optical designers
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Paper Abstract

The surface of a spinning liquid takes the shape of a paraboloid that can be used as a reflecting mirror. Liquid mirrors have many characteristics that make them useful for optical applications: low costs, large sizes, excellent optical qualities, possibility of very high or very low numerical apertures, low scattered light, etc... The largest mirror built so far has a diameter of 3.7 meters. The largest mirror that has been extensively tested has a diameter of 2.5 meters. Interferometric tests show that it is diffraction limited. We discuss several technical issues related to liquid mirrors. A handful of liquid mirrors have now been built that are used for scientific work. We briefly discuss a practical application of liquid mirrors: We built and tested a telecentric f-θ 3D scanner that uses a liquid mirror as its objective. The prototype has a stand- off distance of 1.5 meters, a scan length up to 1 meter (telecentric), a depth of view of 1 meter and a relative depth resolution of 1 mm or less. The design is based on the auto-synchronized scanner and is f-(theta) corrected for field scanning distortion. We therefore claim that the liquid mirror technology gives a new tool to the optical designer.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 September 1998
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3482, International Optical Design Conference 1998, (21 September 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.321989
Show Author Affiliations
Simon Thibault, National Optics Institute and COPL/Univ. Laval (Canada)
Ermanno F. Borra, COPL/Univ. Laval (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3482:
International Optical Design Conference 1998
Leo R. Gardner; Kevin P. Thompson, Editor(s)

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