Imaging performance of elliptical-boundary varifocal mirrors in active optical systems
Micro-electro-mechanical systems deformable-membrane mirrors provide a means of focus control and attendant spherical aberration correction for miniaturized imaging systems. The technology has greatly advanced in the last decade, thereby extending their focal range capabilities. This dissertation describes a novel SU-8 2002 silicon-on-insulator wafer deformable mirror. A 4.000 mm x 5.657 mm mirror for 45° incident light rays achieves 22 micron stroke or 65 diopters, limited by snapdown. The mirrors show excellent optical quality while flat. Most have peak-to-valley difference of less than 150 nm and root-mean-square less than 25 nm. The process proves simple, only requiring a silicon-on-insulator wafer, SU-8 2002, and a metal layer. Xenon difluoride etches the silicon to release the mirrors. Greater than 90% of the devices survive fabrication and release. While current literature includes several aberration analyses on static mirrors, analyses that incorporate the dynamic nature of these mirrors do not exist. Optical designers may have a choice between deformable mirrors and other types of varifocal mirrors or lenses. Furthermore, a dynamic mirror at an incidence angle other than normal may be desired due to space limitations or for higher throughput (normal incidence requires a beam splitter). This dissertation presents an analysis based on the characteristic function of the system. It provides 2nd and 3rd order aberration coefficients in terms of dynamic focus range and base ray incidence angle. These afford an understanding of the significance of different types of aberrations. Root-mean-square and Strehl calculations provide insight into overall imaging performance for various conditions. I present general guidelines for maximum incidence angle and field of fiew that provide near diffraction-limited performance. Experimental verification of the MEMS mirrors at 5° and 45° incidence angles validates the analytical results. A Blu-ray optical pick-up imaging demonstration shows the utility of these mirrors for focus control and spherical aberration correction. Imaging results of the first demonstration of a deformable mirror for dynamic agile focus control and spherical aberration correction in a commercial table-top confocal microscope are also shown.