The most important thing

So you spot the latest model of a certain sought-after car easing down your street and�to your lack of surprise�feel the tug of desire.

So you spot the latest model of a certain sought-after car easing down your street and—to your lack of surprise—feel the tug of desire. Something is telling you that no other car should be the one guiding you down life's highways. But before you do anything rash, you might want to get to know your own urges better. You could ask yourself what it is you most want from a car. Is it fuel economy? Image? Retractable cup holders? And do you want it now, or can you wait until after lunch?

Of course, what you crave as you are noticing leather-bound seats and cutting-edge grille design may not be what you end up with after having that financial discussion with your loved one. And, if you are a thinking person, you will consider many factors before going out and jousting with your credit limit. Even so, one way to get to the essence of the matter is to ask, "What is the most important thing here?"

That question can be applied to many challenging situations, including those in the technical world. One common version in industry is, "What quality in my product can I concentrate on to make it stand out?"

In this special report, three optical manufacturers have applied themselves in this manner, taking a material, process, or product and concentrating on one quality in particular. In the first article, Kenneth Hrdina and colleagues at Corning start with the company's ultra-low-expansion glass and focus on the material's coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE); the authors' improved measurement method will allow the CTE of the glass to be maintained at close to zero to tight tolerances for use in extreme-ultraviolet lithography.

In the second article, David Kemp and Wayne Pantley of Alpine Research Optics take an all-encompassing view of flatness; they discuss ways in which the flatness of optical elements can be maintained through the optical-coating process, allowing optics to be made that more easily meet specifications in actual use.

In the final article, Mark Sanson of Thales Optem emphasizes telecentricity. Outlining the development of a telecentric lens that has a zoom capability, he describes how maintaining telecentricity over a large zoom range results in high throughput for metrology applications.

John Wallace
Senior Editor
[email protected]

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