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Exploring the Benefits of Optical Domes

Optical domes are integral to many optical systems, providing critical protection for sensitive components in challenging conditions. Imagine needing to capture high-resolution images of deep-sea life. An underwater camera equipped with an optical dome can endure the immense pressures found in the ocean’s depths.

In another scenario, fast-moving setups exposed to elements like wind, dust, and snow require an optical dome to maintain a clear, scratch-free surface, ensuring optimal visibility.


Optical Domes

Types of Optical Domes

Custom optical domes serve a wide range of purposes, including aerospace, defense, underwater imaging, and remote sensing. They are utilized in devices such as the Mars Rover, solar radiation sensors, and submarine portals, providing protection against water, wind, radiation, debris, and noxious gases.


Design and Material Considerations

An optical dome consists of a transparent material with a concave internal surface and a convex external surface. The surfaces are parallel and evenly spaced, creating a mono-centric shell. This design minimizes optical aberration, offering nearly invisible protection.

Optical domes can be manufactured from various substrates, including zinc sulfide, zinc selenide, germanium, UV fused silica, glass, and sapphire. Sapphire is ideal for infrared applications due to its hardness, mechanical stability, and scratch resistance. UV fused silica is perfect for UV light applications, protecting UV radiometers.


Key Advantages Over Flat Windows

  • Less Chromatic Aberration: Dome-shaped optical components produce less chromatic aberration than flat windows at the edges of the field of view.
  • Broader Field of View: Optical domes offer a larger field of view, allowing sensors to receive radiation from multiple directions.
  • Superior Pressure Resistance: Optical domes distribute pressure evenly, making them more suitable for pressure-resistant applications than flat windows. This allows for thinner domes with fewer optical aberrations.
  • Reduced Optical Aberration: In underwater environments, domes exhibit less optical aberration compared to the thicker flat windows otherwise needed.


Custom Domes and Additional Benefits

At Shanghai Optics, we create custom domes from a wide range of substrates, often featuring:

  • Scratch resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Thermal stability
  • Mechanical stability
  • Ease of maintenance

Optical glass domes are a popular choice for many applications due to their excellent cost/performance ratio. They are durable, easy to maintain, scratch-resistant, chemical-resistant, and thermally stable. Anti-reflection and other protective coatings can be added as needed.

Acrylic optical domes, while not as scratch-resistant as glass, offer mechanical stability, resistance to breakage, lighter weight, and lower manufacturing costs.

Contact Shanghai Optics today! We’d be more than happy to discuss your projects and how to best bring them to fruition.


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