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While not as widely recognized as convex or concave lenses, cylindrical lenses play a crucial role in various applications due to their unique capabilities. This comprehensive guide explores the fundamentals of cylindrical lenses, shedding light on their working principles and diverse applications.

Cylinder Lenses

Cylindrical lenses, as the name suggests, are lenses that exhibit a cylindrical shape in at least one part. Unlike spherical lenses, which uniformly focus or spread light in all directions, cylindrical lenses specialize in directing light in a single dimension. This unique characteristic makes them indispensable in certain scenarios where other lenses fall short.

Understanding the Working of Cylindrical Lenses

The distinctive shape of a cylindrical lens enables it to focus light from a source, such as a laser, into a straight line. The ability to manipulate one-dimensional light, either compressing or expanding it, makes cylindrical lenses versatile tools for a wide range of applications. The design of these lenses allows for the bending and focusing of light according to specific application requirements.

Exploring Types of Cylindrical Lenses

  • Singlet, Doublet, and Triplet: Cylindrical lenses with one, two, or three lens components.
  • Plano-Convex and Plano-Concave Lenses: Featuring flat faces and convex or concave cylindrical surfaces, respectively.
  • Sphero-Cylindrical Lens: Combining a sphere-like surface with a cylindrical one.
  • Biconvex or Biconcave Lens: With both sides being either concave or convex.
  • Achromatic Cylinder Lens: Designed to reduce chromatic aberration, focusing light with multiple colors in one direction.

Applications of Cylindrical Lenses

  • Correcting Astigmatism: Aligning with the direction of astigmatism to focus light in one plane and correct distorted or blurred images.
  • Laser Beam Shape Correction: Reshaping laser beams, especially in semiconductor lasers, for improved quality and circular profiles.
  • Optical Spectroscopy: Controlling spatial and spectral properties of light in spectroscopy applications, such as monochromators.
  • Laser Line Scanning: Shaping laser beams into straight lines for applications like 3D metrology and quality control.
  • Microscopy: Enhancing confocal microscopy by shaping laser beams, correcting aberrations, and improving signal-to-noise ratios in fluorescence microscopy.

Figure 1: Typically, laser diodes emit light with an elliptical profile that requires correction.

Materials Utilized in Crafting Cylindrical Lenses

Cylindrical lenses come in various materials, including fused silica (JGS1, Corning 7980, JGS2), optical glass (BK7, B270, H-K9L from Ohara, Schott, CDGM, or Corning), IR materials (MgF2, Ge, CaF2, Si), and other options like optical plastics and sapphire.

Factory Standard

  • Substrate Material: Schott, Ohara, CDGM, Corning Fused Silica and JGS1, JGS2
  • Shape: P-Concave, P-Convex or Aspheric
  • Focal length: +/-1%
  • Surface Quality: 20-10 (after coating)
  • Surface figure: l/4 @ 633nm
  • Angle: +/-5″
  • Clear Aperture: >90% of central dimension
Specifications Factory Standards Manufacturing Limit
Dimension Tolerance +/-0.03mm +/-0.01mm
Center Thickness Tolerance +/-0.03 mm +/-0.02mm
Radius Tolerance +/-0.3% +/-0.1%
Surface Quality(S/D) 40-20 10-5
Irregularity(Plano Surface) 1/8Lambda < 1/15Lambda
Irregularity(Cylindrical Surface) 1/4Lambda < 1/8Lambda
Centration(arc min) 3′ 1′

Contact us for manufacturing limit or custom specifications.

Industrial Applications of Cylindrical Lenses

Cylindrical lenses find widespread use in industries such as:

  • Industrial Inspection: In laser scanning optical metrology systems, alignment tools, and laser processing equipment.
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing: Circularizing elliptical beams in wafer inspection tools and flat panel display measurement tools.
  • Entertainment: Compressing and stretching images in digital cinema cameras and projectors.
  • Life Sciences and Medical: Used in life science imaging and medical test instruments.

In essence, a cylindrical lens is a specialized optical tool crucial for directing light in a single dimension. Its significance spans diverse fields, from correcting astigmatism in ophthalmology to shaping laser beams for optimal performance. The range of cylindrical lenses available ensures their pivotal role in the development of various tools and technologies.

At Shanghai Optics, our expertise lies in providing top-quality custom Cylinder Lenses. Explore our range of custom Cylinder Lenses solutions and place your order today. For any inquiries, please feel free to contact us, and we’ll be delighted to assist you.


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