LMI Seminar: Fluidic Shaping of Optical Components on Earth and in Space
Prof. Moran Bercovici, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
I will present our theoretical and experimental work on leveraging the basic physics of liquid-fluid interfaces for fabrication of a wide range of high-quality optical components, without the need for any mechanical processing.
I will first discuss the use of light projection as a mechanism to induce temperature gradients on a thin liquid film, resulting in its spatial deformation by the thermocapillary effect. Based on an inverse problem solution, we can predict the illumination pattern required in order to create a desired deformation. Polymerization of the film results in diffractive optical elements, with sub-nanometric surface quality.
To create larger components such as eyeglasses or telescope lenses, the elimination of gravity is crucial. We turned to experimenting with neutral buoyancy and developed a passive method wherein we engineer boundary conditions on fluidic interfaces to drive liquid volumes into minimum energy states that correspond to desired optical topographies.
Finally, I will discuss our collaboration with NASA on the use of this technology for in-space fabrication of optics and for the creation of large space telescopes that overcomes launch constraints. I will present our parabolic flight experiments, as well as our recent experiments on the international space station.