Every optical device consists of various optic components that work together to allow the entire unit to perform a specific function. It could be to steer a cruise missile to a precise target from a ship hundreds of miles away or read the bar-code on that bag of potato chips you just bought at the grocery store. Optic components could be designed to focus a LASER beam on the surface of the moon, or read a car license plate from a satellite orbiting miles outside the atmosphere. Or, it could just focus the beam of your flashlight. Optical components are everywhere.
Optic components can fall into several different categories:
- Optical: this includes lenses, prisms, apertures, or anything that allows light to pass through.
- Optomechanical: These are the optical components required to be able to use the optical device, such as mounting brackets, fasteners, housings, insulation, adjustment hardware, knobs, and such.
- Optoelectronic: This could include control and imaging software, voltage and current regulation, positioning awareness, telemetry, remote control, automation, etc…
- Illumination: for an optic deceive to work, it has to have a light source. It could be as simple as a window allowing light in, or a fluorescent light or LED. Illumination does not necessarily have to be within the visible wavelengths. The illumination can also be in the ultraviolet and infrared ranges. This is one of the principles behind Night Vision devices.
An optical component can contain any combination or even all of these devices into the completed unit.