Optical Glass: Significance and Definitions
DOI: 10.1117/3.1002595.ch1
text A A A

Excerpt

Optical glass is a very important material in the development of technology and thus of the history of mankind as a whole. It first allowed access to the micro- and macrocosm, when, about 400 years ago, the microscope and the telescope were invented at almost the same time and location in the town Middelburg in the Netherlands (Fig. 1.1). Although glass lenses were known before this time, only the combination of two or more lenses forming optical instruments could increase magnification to such an extent that new worlds were opened to human vision and investigation.

Glass was the only bulk material capable of changing the direction of light rays without impairing them by absorption or scattering that could be produced in large volume with comparatively low cost. This property is still the basis of a vast variety of optical systems in use today, not only for imaging but for light management in general. Today's microscopes are highly sophisticated instruments with outstanding precision mechanics, computer control, and software assistance. But without the glass inside of them, they are worthless.

Quite obvious is the use of optical glass in consumer products such as photography cameras, camcorders, and binoculars. The general public is also familiar with applications in movie cameras and projectors. Much less known is the fact that optical systems have widespread use in metrology, which is the necessary precondition process in any manufacturing. The automotive industry uses stationary, computer-numerical controlled 3D (CNC 3D) measurement machines, which appear to work mechanically. However, a closer look shows that these machines work with glass-ceramic-scale readout using small lenses. Mobile machines provide 3D measurement directly at the workshop floor. In the aviation- and ship-building industries, very large elements need to precisely fit one another. This is also achieved with 3D measurement machines, so-called laser trackers. In general industry, quite often large machines need to be precisely aligned; this is achieved with optical systems. Products will be quality controlled with telecentric optical lens systems. Machine vision systems are ubiquitous nowadays. Theodolites are workhorses for civil engineering. Land surveying, the application that boosted the development of optics 200 years ago, uses earthbound, airborne, and spaceborne optical systems.

© 2014 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)

Access This Chapter

Access to SPIE eBooks is limited to subscribing institutions and is not available as part of a personal subscription. Print or electronic versions of individual SPIE books may be purchased via SPIE.org.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Related Book Chapters

Topic Collections

Advertisement
  • Don't have an account?
  • Subscribe to the SPIE Digital Library
  • Create a FREE account to sign up for Digital Library content alerts and gain access to institutional subscriptions remotely.
Access This Article
Sign in or Create a personal account to Buy this article ($20 for members, $25 for non-members).
Access This Proceeding
Sign in or Create a personal account to Buy this article ($15 for members, $18 for non-members).
Access This Chapter

Access to SPIE eBooks is limited to subscribing institutions and is not available as part of a personal subscription. Print or electronic versions of individual SPIE books may be purchased via SPIE.org.