Collimators are optical devices used to focus light beams. They work by aligning light beams into parallel rays while also reducing their spatial cross-sections to make them narrower. Typical applications include adjusting the viewing angle in laboratory operations and enabling optical alignment in reflecting telescopes for astronomy purposes.

How Do Laser Collimators Work?

Light experiences a certain degree of diffraction when passing through a refractive object, causing the light beams to scatter in various directions. A collimator uses a curved mirror or lens to convert scattered light into direct, parallel rays. The process of collimation reduces divergence, which describes how quickly a laser beam expands from its focus. The low divergence of a collimated beam (usually a laser beam) prevents it from experiencing significant changes within modest propagation distances.

Laser Beam Collimation Methods

Laser beams, which are narrow beams of intense light, typically require collimation to meet the very low divergence requirements of spectroscopy, microscopy, and other optical applications. There are two methods of performing collimation:

  1. The simplest way of collimating laser diode beams is by using a single aspheric lens, whose focal length determines the size of the beam diameter after collimation.
  2. Alternatively, a two-lens system can be used when certain adjustments need to be made, such as expanding the beam radius. In such cases, one lens features a negative focal length while the other has a positive one, creating a system where beams can be collimated and either expanded or contracted. Using a two-lens system is a popular way to focus laser diode beams since it enables one lens to collimate the beam while the second one focuses it.

Types of Laser Collimators

There are several different types of collimators available, each of which demonstrates varying sensitivity levels and resolution capabilities. The four basic designs are:

Pinhole Collimators

Pinhole collimators are thick, conical collimators with a single hole drilled into the bottom.

Parallel/Multi-Hole Collimators

Parallel or multi-hole collimators consist of several parallel holes that are perpendicular to the plane of the crystal surface.

Converging Collimators

Converging collimators consist of multiple tapered holes that are focused in the direction of a specific point.

Divergent Collimators

Divergent collimators are essentially inverted converging collimators.

Applications of Laser Collimators

Common applications for laser collimators include:

  • Nuclear power stations
  • Optical device calibration
  • Planar scintigraphy for electronic detection medical imaging
  • Radionuclide imaging
  • Scintillation imaging

Why Partner With Optics Technology?

At Optics Technology, Inc., we manufacture custom micro and miniature optical systems and components, including laser collimators. With nearly 30 years of experience in our field, we understand the importance of ensuring precision and quality when it comes to manufacturing optical parts and products for sensitive applications.

Our cutting-edge equipment allows us to manufacture optical lenses within tight tolerances of +/- 2 microns with diameters ranging from a single millimeter to 30 millimeters and wedge total indicator run-outs of 2 microns. Additionally, we can scale operations to accommodate single prototype fabrications and small to medium production volumes.

Our optical components meet the specifications of applications across a diverse set of industries, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Astronomy
  • Industrial
  • Medical
  • Military
  • National laboratories
  • Photography
  • Sensory technologies
  • Universities

Laser Collimator Solutions From Optics Technology

The curved mirror or lens of a collimator enables light to be focused in a particular direction. There are several types of collimator designs for different applications, each with varying levels of sensitivity and imaging capabilities. In addition to the astronomy, medical, and aerospace applications of collimators, they also serve important analytical and imaging purposes in research institutes and universities.

Optics Technology offers custom manufacturing capabilities for laser collimators tailored to a customer’s unique needs. We can create laser collimator lenses in a variety of different shapes, including spherical, hemispherical, hyper-hemispherical, rod, and flat configurations. These products support technological advances and foster scientific innovations in top universities and research institutions and find applications in the commercial, medical, military, and sensory technology industries.

To learn more about our custom laser collimators, contact us or request a quote today.