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Spie Press Book

Alignment of Optical Systems Using Lasers
Author(s): David M. Benton
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Book Description

This Spotlight is intended to pass on some nuggets of knowledge about how to go about setting up an optical alignment using a laser and some tricks to use to make life easier. There are other topics that are important to grasp, topics that may have been presented in lectures but not faced in reality - such as chromatic effects and collimation. This text is not intended to be rigorously scientific in its approach but more as a companion on your optics journey.

Book Details

Date Published: 3 September 2021
Pages: 36
Volume: SL61

Table of Contents
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1 Introduction
1.1 A word about laser safety
1.2 Laboratory good practice

2 How Alignment Can Go Wrong
2.1 Basic alignment
2.2 Elemental components and controls

3 Working with Lenses
3.1 Lens action
3.2 Focal spot size
3.3 Collimation
3.4 Divergence reduction using beam expanders
3.5 Gaussian beams
3.6 Chromatic aberration

4 Defining the Optical Axis
4.1 The dog leg: the foundation stone of alignment

5 Focusing into a Fiber

6 Aligning an Interferometer
6.1 The Michelson interferometer
6.2 The Mach Zehnder interferometer

7 Aligning with Lenses

8 The Shearing Interferometer for Testing Collimation

9 Alignment of Near-Infrared Beams

10 The Retroreflector as a Useful Tool
10.1 Fiber to free space and back: an example of the use of a retroreflector

11 Concluding Remarks


I learned the basics of optical alignment initially from my PhD supervisor and the rest I acquired over 3 decades in optical laboratories. Seemingly little has changed for this process of knowledge acquisition even though the world of scientific publishing has vastly expanded and moved to an electronic format. There is a lot of information about what to do with optics, seemingly little about how to go about doing it. Hence I decided to record the thoughts and methods I use regarding optical alignment. This book is not intended to be rigorous in scientific detail, more a guide to point you in the right direction. Neither is this book a beginners guide to optics but assumes familiarity with light, its control and the basic components used. You ultimately learn optical alignment by doing it, but you can save a lot of time by starting out in the right direction.

David M. Benton
August 2021

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