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Resources / Application Notes / Optics / Off-Axis Parabolic Mirror Selection Guide
Off-Axis Parabolic Mirror Selection Guide
Edmund Optics Inc.

Off-Axis Parabolic Mirror Selection Guide

Parabolic mirrors have the ability to focus collimated light without introducing spherical aberration. An Off-Axis Parabolic (OAP) mirror is simply a side section of a parent parabolic mirror. Collimated light that is incident to an OAP mirror is focused to a point. However, unlike a centered parabolic mirror, an OAP mirror has an advantage in that it allows more interactive space around the focal point without disrupting the beam as shown in Figure 1.

Off-Axis Parabolic Metal Mirrors
Figure 1: Off-Axis Parabolic Metal Mirrors

Depending on which section of a parabolic shape an OAP mirror is replicating, the angle between the focal point and the central ray axis can be large or small. Figure 2 represents this phenomena by modeling a 15° and 45° off axis mirror respectively. Note: It is important to keep the incident beam parallel to the optical axis, any angular displacement will produce comatic aberration.

Diagrams of 15 Degrees and 45 Degrees OAP mirrors
Figure 2: Diagrams of 15° and 45° OAP mirrors

Edmund Optics offers three types of off-axis parabolic mirrors: metal, high performance, and low scatter. Table 1 compares the substrate, controlled scattering ability, and price of the three different types.

TypeSubstrateScatterPrice
Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
Aluminum
GOOD
$
High Performance Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
Glass
BETTER
$$$
50Å Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
Aluminum
BEST
$$
Table 1: Comparison of metal, high performance, and low scatter OAP mirrors

Selection Guide

The following selection guide provides helpful information detailing the strengths and limitations of each OAP type.

TECHSPEC® 50Å Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
TECHSPEC<sup>®</sup> 50Å Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors

TECHSPEC® 50Å Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors are designed to direct and focus incident collimated light at a specific angle with minimal scatter loss. By using a specialized manufacturing process, the aluminum substrate low scatter OAP mirrors decrease scatter in the visible spectrum. Each mirror has been visually inspected with a HeNe laser to ensure low scatter.
View Product

Typical Scatter Profiles
Figure 3: Typical Scatter Profiles. Left is standard grade OAPM, while right is TECHSPEC® 50Å Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
Strengths
Limitations
  • Designed for Low Scatter in the Visible Spectrum
  • Aluminum Substrate Mirrors
  • Improved Surface Roughness and Surface Figure
  • Must operate in a clean environment
100Å Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
Off-Axis Parabolic Metal Mirrors

Metal mirrors are available in 15°, 30°, 45°, 60°, or 90° Off-Axis options. Each of these options comes with a coating choice of Protected Aluminum, Protected Gold, or Bare Gold. These coatings allow great reflectivity across a range of spectral regions. Edmund Optics also offers different diameter selections for each coating and angle. Typically, these mirrors are used as collimators in Schlieren and MTF systems, but gold coated off-axis parabolic mirrors can also be used in FLIR test systems. View Product

Theoretical Reflectance Curves for Metal Mirror
Figure 4: Theoretical Reflectance Curves for Metal Mirror
StrengthsLimitations
  • Aluminum substrate mirrors.
  • Available in 15°, 30°, 45°, 60°, or 90° Off-Axis Options
  • Aluminum and Gold Coating Options
  • Due to the 175Å surface roughness, these mirrors are not suitable for visible and UV applications that require low scatter
High Performance Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors
High Performance Off-Axis Parabolic Mirrors

Edmund Optics also offers high performance glass substrate off-axis parabolic mirrors with superior surface accuracy for increased focusing ability. Typical applications include use in Czerny-Turner and Littrow spectrometer configurations and in general collimator and beam expander setups. These mirrors work extremely well in the UV to visible light spectrum. View Product

Simulation Result of Aluminum Coating Reflectance
Figure 5: Simulation Result of Aluminum Coating Reflectance between 10,000nm and 20,000nm
Strengths
Limitations
  • High Quality Glass Substrate
  • λ/4 or λ/2 Surface Accuracy
  • Ideal for UV and Visible Applications
  • Typically longer focal length
  • Requires angled mounting making alignment more challenging
  • Glass substrate is not suitable for terahertz frequency applications

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