White Paper: Imaging

Active Alignment Speeds Up Optical Systems Manufacturing


Optical alignment and micro-optic positioning are challenging, time-consuming processes. Tiny positional variations in photonic and optical manufacturing can mean the difference between success and failure. Nanoscale misalignments between the elements or inputs and outputs of an optical or photonic assembly can significantly impact its performance. This issue pervades numerous advanced opto-electronic manufacturing markets, from lenses in high-performance cameras and objectives, to lasers, to LIDAR assemblies, to silicon photonic wafers in semiconductor manufacturing.

Active alignment is a technology that improves the performance, profitability, and yield in manufacturing advanced optics and photonics components for the modern era. Conventionally, distinct elements within an optical system are aligned in a serial fashion through a series of time-consuming loops. This was to ensure the alignment was optimized across multiple degrees of freedom and that dependencies between elements were mitigated.

Modern cameras use electronic image stabilization algorithms to reduce side effects from motion that otherwise would blur images and video. The better a designer can simulate and repeat the actual vibration and unwanted motion generated by typical humans holding a camera, the more effective countermeasures can be devised.

Vibrations and motion typically occur in many degrees of freedom, i.e. there is angular and linear motion in multiple axes often at the same time. Using PI’s shaker hexapod platform, Google engineers can simulate unwanted motion and vibration for both still images and video recordings. PI’s hexapod controller and GUI make it easy for software engineers to create any random motion and make the smartphone mounted on its platform move along a predefined trajectory with the frequency content that corresponds to the typical trembling of the human hand. The H-860 voice coil hexapod can provide motion with frequencies to 30 Hz and above and provides linear repeatability of ±0.5 microns.

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