by Jason Palidwar, Account Manager, Iridian Spectral Technologies
Over the past two decades, multi-layer thin film filters (TFF) and coatings have become key optical components enabling sensing, imaging, and wavelength separation in a broad range of applications from telecommunications to telescopes. However, despite the role these critical light-manipulating optical elements play in our lives on a daily basis, they have been the largely unseen and unacknowledged underpinnings of more complex systems.
Over the past decade, though, continued improvements in design and manufacturing methods — such as in-situ optical monitoring and automated coater control with dynamic design adjustment — have enabled successful production of optical filters with increasing control over the spectral shape. This has facilitated the production of more complex filters, including multi-band spectral performance. Improvements in coater uniformity and machine operation efficiency achieved through quick-turn load-locked systems have reduced filter manufacturing costs, even as the complexity of filters has increased. This reduction in price, coupled with improvements in performance, has enabled new applications using these TFFs and closed the consumer gap.