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Optical materials capable of advanced functionality in the infrared will enable optical designs that can offer lightweight or small footprint solutions in both planar and bulk optical systems. The University of Central Florida’s Glass Processing and Characterization Laboratory, together with our collaborators, have been evaluating compositional design and processing protocols for both bulk and film strategies employing multicomponent chalcogenide glasses (ChGs). These materials can be processed with broad compositional flexibility that allows tailoring of their transmission window, physical and optical properties, which allows them to be engineered for compatibility with other homogeneous amorphous or crystalline optical components. We review progress in forming ChG-based gradient refractive index (GRIN) materials from diverse processing methodologies, including solution-derived ChG layers, poled ChGs with gradient compositional and surface reactivity behavior, nanocomposite bulk ChGs and glass ceramics, and metalens structures realized through multiphoton lithography. We discussed current design and metrology tools that lend critical information to material design efforts to realize next-generation IR GRIN media for bulk or film applications.
The Raman spectra of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)/SAN17 nanolayered composite material are used to retrieve the volumetric refractive index of a manufactured gradient index (GRIN) lens. A series of five PMMA/SAN17 nanolayered composite sheets with varying PMMA to SAN17 filling fraction ratios of 0/100, 25/75, 50/50, 75/25, and 100/0 were constructed to calibrate the 785-nm Raman measurement. An additive model was then used to extrapolate the volumetric refractive index profile of the fabricated GRIN lens based on PMMA/SAN17 filling fraction. A good overall agreement between the calculated and modeled GRIN profiles can be observed with an error of ±0.003.
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New moldable, infrared (IR) transmitting glasses and diffusion-based gradient index (GRIN) optical glasses enable simultaneous imaging across multiple wavebands including short-wave infrared, midwave infrared, and long-wave infrared, and offer potential for both weight savings and increased performance in optical sensors. Lens designs show potential for significant reduction in size and weight and improved performance using these materials in homogeneous and GRIN lens elements in multiband sensors. An IR-GRIN lens with Δn = 0.2 is demonstrated.
Scanning confocal Raman microscopy is proposed to measure a gradient index (GRIN) profile at an optical surface. The Raman microscope is calibrated to index of refraction for a binary copolymer GRIN material, and then the index of refraction is mapped on the plano surface of a GRIN polymer lens. The measurement deduces axial shift of 680 μm and identifies lateral tilt or decenter with respect to the nominal position of the GRIN profile. Results suggest that the mapping method is a nondestructive way to measure the GRIN profile of a GRIN lens and its positioning within the lens geometry, to within the sampling precision of the Raman microscope.