Existing optics mounts sandwich the optic axially between two metal components, which can lead to optical surface damage and misalignment when exposed to fluctuating temperatures. Thermal-compensating optics housing capable of protecting the fragile optical materials in systems that see large thermal variations has been developed.

Prototype of the thermal-compensating optics housing.

The optics housing is designed to allow the optics to “float” inside radially compressive housing. The resulting optics housing is more robust in maintaining optical alignment and protecting delicate optical material through various thermal environments than those currently available on the commercial market.

The thermal-compensating optics housing utilizes flexure arms that are arranged to apply radial contact force in three locations 120° apart. The specific shape and size of the sliding flexures are entirely customizable to any given design requirement. As the thermal environment changes, the optics and housing material grow at different rates. This growth/shrinkage is accommodated by the flexure bending at the radial point of contact on the optics. The geometric symmetry of the flexures ensures each contact point applies the same amount of radial load, thus forcing the optics to remain at the geometric center of the assembly while the external housing grows/shrinks with the thermal environment.

The housing sliding flexures and axial flexures work together to maintain the position of the optics throughout mechanical and thermal environments. This design also accommodates shock and vibration by dampening the input to the optics held in the mounting unit, ensuring performance in the harshest conditions.

For more information, contact Sandia National Laboratories at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit here .