Microoptical systems with clear aperture of about one millimeter or less are fabricated from a layer of photoresist using a lithographic process to define the optical elements. A deep X-ray source is typically used to expose the photoresist. Exposure and development of the photoresist layer can produce planar, cylindrical, and radially symmetric micro-scale optical elements, comprising lenses, mirrors, apertures, diffractive elements, and prisms, monolithically formed on a common substrate with the mutual optical alignment required to provide the desired system functionality. Optical alignment can be controlled to better than one micron accuracy. Appropriate combinations of structure and materials enable optical designs that include corrections for chromatic and other optical aberrations. The developed photoresist can be used as the basis for a molding operation to produce microoptical systems made of a range of optical materials. Finally, very complex microoptical systems can be made with as few as three lithographic exposures.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
This invention was made with Government support under contract no. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Sandia Corporation. The Government has certain rights in the invention.