Researchers at Tsinghua University in China have developed an automatic technique that could enhance the speed and effect of optical design. Until now, optical design without human guidance has been deemed impossible by many.
Led by Jun Zhu, a professor in the Department of Precision Instruments at Tsinghua, the study found that three-mirror freeform imaging systems can be obtained automatically; these have various structures and diffraction-limited imaging qualities, the researchers say. The approach—a result-diversified automatic design method for freeform optics—can automatically distribute optical power among the mirrors in the system and search for various structure forms in a three-mirror system. In the study, the researchers also discovered the system can provide “a variety of high-quality system designs simultaneously by a coarse search on the solution space and can also focus on specific designs by a fine search on the localized solution space.” A grid search by this method was found to be scalable and suitable for parallel computing acceleration. And according to the researchers, “optimization will only improve the system that is given to it and this system largely influences the optimization result.”
The new technique helps the designer to determine the optical specifications and constraints, considering factors such as manufacturability and system structure. This can then be entered into the computer and wait for the results to be outputted. The work will also allow the designer to analyze multiple optical systems and select the final design. Reference: Jun Zhu et al., Light: Sci. Appl. (2021); doi.org/10.1038/s41377-021-00510-z.