Optical engineering
Optical engineering is the field of study that focuses on applications of optics
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

. Optical engineers design components of optical instrument
Optical instrument
An optical instrument either processes light waves to enhance an image for viewing, or analyzes light waves to determine one of a number of characteristic properties.-Image enhancement:...

s such as lenses
Lens (optics)
A lens is an optical device with perfect or approximate axial symmetry which transmits and refracts light, converging or diverging the beam. A simple lens consists of a single optical element...

, microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

s, telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

s, and other equipment that utilizes the properties of light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

. Other devices include optical sensors and measurement systems, laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

s, fiber optic communication systems, optical disc
Optical disc
In computing and optical disc recording technologies, an optical disc is a flat, usually circular disc which encodes binary data in the form of pits and lands on a special material on one of its flat surfaces...

 systems (e.g. CD, DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

), etc.

Because optical engineers want to design and build devices that make light do something useful, they must understand and apply the science of optics in substantial detail, in order to know what is physically possible to achieve (physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

). However, they also must know what is practical in terms of available technology, materials, costs, design methods, etc. As with other fields of engineering, computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

s are important to many (perhaps most) optical engineers. They are used with instruments, for simulation, in design, and for many other applications. Engineers often use general computer tools such as spreadsheet
A spreadsheet is a computer application that simulates a paper accounting worksheet. It displays multiple cells usually in a two-dimensional matrix or grid consisting of rows and columns. Each cell contains alphanumeric text, numeric values or formulas...

s and programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....

s, and they make frequent use of specialized optical software designed specifically for their field.

Optical engineering metrology
Metrology is the science of measurement. Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement. The word comes from Greek μέτρον , "measure" + "λόγος" , amongst others meaning "speech, oration, discourse, quote, study, calculation, reason"...

 uses optical methods to measure micro-vibrations with instruments like the laser speckle interferometer or to measure the properties of the various masses with instruments measuring refraction
Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its speed. It is essentially a surface phenomenon . The phenomenon is mainly in governance to the law of conservation of energy. The proper explanation would be that due to change of medium, the phase velocity of the wave is changed...


See also

  • Optical lens design
    Optical lens design
    Optical lens design refers to the calculation of lens construction parameters that will meet a set of performance requirements and constraints, including cost and schedule limitations....

  • Optician
    An optician is a person who is trained to fill prescriptions for eye correction in the field of medicine, also known as a dispensing optician or optician, dispensing...

  • Optical physics
    Optical physics
    Optical physics, or optical science, is a subfield of atomic, molecular, and optical physics. It is the study of the generation of electromagnetic radiation, the properties of that radiation, and the interaction of that radiation with matter, especially its manipulation and control...

  • SPIE
  • Code V
    CODE V
    Code V is a commercial software package developed by Optical Research Associates. It is used for the design and analysis of optical imaging and optical communication systems...

  • Zemax
    Zemax is a widely-used optical design program sold by Zemax Development Corporation of Bellevue, Washington . It is used for the design and analysis of optical systems...

  • HEXAGON (optical software)
    HEXAGON (optical software)
    The Hughes Executable Application for General-Purpose Optical Analysis is an in-house optical engineering software program developed by Hughes Aircraft Company to allow them to design and analyze a wide variety of optical lens systems...

Further reading

  • Driggers, Ronald G. (ed.) (2003). Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering. New York: Marcel Dekker. 3 vols. ISBN 978-0824709402
  • Bruce H. Walker, Historical Review,SPIE Press, Bellingham, WA. ISBN 9780819478771. http://link.aip.org/link/doi/10.1117/3.818136.ch2
  • FTS Yu & Xiangyang Yang (1997) Introduction to Optical Engineering, Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , ISBN 0251574935 .
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