Optical coatings are an important part of all kinds of optical products and systems. A variety of coatings are available for optical usage. Some coating enhance the optical function while others protect the optic for damage.
Reflective optical coating
There are different kinds of optical coatings. A coating we are all familiar with is a reflective optical coating. These type of coatings are applied to mirrors. They normally consist of one clear glass surface topped with a highly reflective layer. There are optical coatings in that reflective layer in order to prevent it from being scratched off. Reflective optical coatings can be made of all kinds of materials. One of the best and most reflective materials of the spectrum is gold.
Anti-reflective optical coating
Besides reflective optical coatings, there are also anti-reflective optical coatings available. Their benefit is that they can maximize the light that enters an optic. As you can see a reflection in a window and light reflects from a window, this means that not all light passes through a window. Now not all light passes through the lenses, that it should to pass through, either. When the maximum transmission of light is needed, optical coatings come in. They are applied to the lens (or another element) to minimize the reflective qualities of the optic.
Protective optical coatings can sometimes be as simple as a clear material which is harder than the base material it is put on in order to protect the base from scratches.
Filter optical coatings
You can also use filter optical coatings. Their function is in the following: a lot of optics are used as band pass filters. This means that the optic should only allow very specific wavelengths of light to come through and all others should be blocked out. Those band pass filters can be very simple, like a glasswindow. However, the number of different layers of optical coatings applied to such a window can easily reach over 50 different layers. Each of those layers from these optical coatings provide blockage from a certain a range of wavelengths .
Optical coating methods
Optical coatings are applied using several different methods. Vacuum deposition and sputter coating are two of the more commonly used methods. In both methods the base parts which will receive the layers of optical coatings are put upon a holding device and then moved into a chamber. The deposition of material differs according to the method chosen.
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Which coating would be the most suitable for your project? And for what type of application would you like to use it?
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