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Optical engineering is the field of study that focuses on applications of optics.

Optical engineers design components of optical instruments such as lenses, microscopes, telescopes, and other equipment that utilize the properties of light. Other devices include optical sensors and measurement systems, lasers, fiber optic communication systems, optical disc systems (e.g. CD, DVD), etc.

Since 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 and chemistry). However, they also must know what is practical in terms of available technology, materials, costs, design methods, etc. As with other fields of engineering, computers 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 spreadsheets and programming languages, and they make frequent use of specialized optical software designed specifically for their field.

Optical engineering metrology 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.

See also

Further reading

  • Driggers, Ronald G. (ed.) (2003). Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering. New York: Marcel Dekker. 3 vols. ISBN 978-0824709402
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