Optomechanics – A Collaborative Art


Optomechanical engineering is a collaborative art, a fascinating blend of optics, machine design, structural mechanics, servo controls and heat transfer.  I tend to emphasize my (mechanical) contributions in these missives.  But enough about me.  This time I want you guys to stand up and take the bow.  Let’s list at a few topics from the recent past:

Membrane optics research (of 2-28-12)
My contribution of designing some test facilities and helping with the tests was nothing compared to the conception of the telescope it was intended to support.  My thanks to the telescope designer, the lab technicians who ran the tests and the structural engineers who interpreted the results.  (Applause)

Tensile stresses in ring mounted glass lenses (of 8-31-09)
A dear friend and colleague persisted in his belief that glass was too fragile to be mounted in metal rings.  A survey of the literature showed no solution for this load condition and the nearest ones, point load and line load, were unreasonable.  So, I got out my pencil (remember those?) and developed the solution for ring loading.  My thanks to my dear friend.  (More applause)

Mounting mirrors with elastomers (of 2-6-12)
The optics community has been searching for the perfect “athermal” mounting scheme for years.  Guess what, there isn’t one.  This is one of my contributions to the lore.  Love (and Timoshenko) made me do it.  My thanks (posthumously) to Alexander and Stephen.  (More applause)

Stabilizing lines of sight (of 7-12-11)
I teased the servo engineers, the structural engineers and the “optikers” somewhat mercilessly.  It was entirely rhetorical.  They were the heroes of the story.  No one gets down to microradian stability levels on moving earth-bound vehicles unless they all have done a very good job.  My thanks to the servo engineers, structural engineers and “optikers.”  (Still more applause)

Co-inventing a remote sensor (of 4-17-12)
An optical designer friend thought my nanometer-class structural actuators with his lens design skills would be the solution.  He was wrong.  The best approach was an entirely optical solution, with his lens design skills and somewhat more complicated optics.  It worked.  And I got to do the mechanical design!  My thanks to my optical designer friend.  (And yet more applause)

My list is nearly endless.  And each of you has been a stimulus, a catalyst and a joy to have as a friend and a colleague.

Now, all of you, step forward and take a bow (or two or three).  (Deafening applause)

Thank you all for allowing me to participate in your adventures.

Rejoice on our Independence Day.

And happy Summertime to all.

Al H.

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