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Molded Glass Aspheric Lenses, 405 nm or 1064 nm AR Coating
Aspheric Lens in a Fiber Launch Application
Molded Glass Aspheric Lenses: 405 nm V-Coat or 1064 nm V-Coat
Aspheric lenses are designed to focus or collimate light without introducing spherical aberration into the transmitted wavefront. For monochromatic sources, spherical aberration is often what prevents a single spherical lens from achieving diffraction limited performance when focusing or collimating light. Thus, an aspheric lens is often the best single element solution for many applications including collimating the output of a fiber or laser diode, coupling light into a fiber, spatial filtering, or imaging light onto a detector.
All of these molded glass lenses are also available premounted in non-magnetic 303 stainless steel lens cells that are engraved with the part number for easy identification. These mounted aspheres have a metric thread that makes them easy to integrate into an optical setup or OEM application. The mounted aspheres are readily adapted to our SM1 series of lens tubes by using our Aspheric Lens Adapters. Mounted aspheres can be used as a drop-in replacement for multi-element microscope objective by combining the lens with our Microscope Objective Adapter Extension Tube.
If an unmounted aspheric lens is being used to collimate the light from a point source or laser diode, the side with the greater radius of curvature (i.e., the flatter surface) should face the point source or laser diode. To collimate light using one of our mounted aspheric lenses, orient the housing so that the externally threaded end of the mount faces the source.
The damage threshold for these lenses is determined by the antireflective (AR) coating. As a guideline these coatings can withstand 100 W/cm2 CW input power or 0.1 J/cm2 with 10 ns pulse energy at 1064 nm. Molded glass aspheres are manufactured from a variety of optical glasses to yield the indicated performance. The molding process will cause the properties of the glass (e.g., Abbe number) to deviate slightly from those given by glass manufacturers. Specific material properties for each lens can be found by clicking on the Info Icon in the tables below and selecting the Glass tab.
Choosing a Lens
Aspheric lenses are commonly chosen to couple incident light with a diameter of 1 - 5 mm into a single mode fiber. A simple example will illustrate the key specifications to consider when trying to choose the correct lens.
The specifications for the P1-630A-FC-2, 630 nm, FC/PC single mode patch cable indicate that the mode field diameter (MFD) is 4.3 μm. This specification should be matched to the diffraction-limited spot size given by the following equation:
Here, f is the focal length of the lens, λ is the wavelength of the input light, and D is the diameter of collimated beam incident on the lens. Solving for the desired focal length of the collimating lens yields
Thorlabs offers a large selection of mounted and unmounted aspheric lenses to choose from. The aspheric lens with a focal length that is closest to 16 mm has a focal length of 15.29 mm (Item# 354260-B or A260-B). This lens also has a clear aperture that is larger than the collimated beam diameter. Therefore, this aspheric lens is the best option given the initial parameters (i.e., a P1-630A-FC-2 single mode fiber and a collimated beam diameter of 3 mm). Remember, for optimum coupling the spot size of the focused beam must be less than the MFD of the single mode fiber. As a result, if an aspheric lens is not available that provides an exact match, then choose the aspheric lens with a focal length that is shorter than the calculation above yields. Alternatively, if the clear aperture of the aspheric lens is large enough, the beam can be expanded before the aspheric lens, which has the result of reducing the spot size of the focus beam.
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Aspheric Lens Design Formula
Aspheric Lens Equation
Choosing a Collimation Lens for Your Laser Diode
Since the output of a laser diode is highly divergent, collimating optics are necessary. Since aspheric lenses do not introduce spherical aberration, they are commonly chosen when the collimated laser beam is to be between one and five millimeters. A simple example will illustrate the key specifications to consider when choosing the correct lens for a given application.
The specifications for the L780P010 laser diode indicate that the typical parallel and perpendicular FWHM beam divergences are 10° and 30°, respectively. Therefore, as the light diverges, an elliptical beam will result. To collect as much light as possible during the collimation process, consider the larger of these two divergence angles in any calculations (i.e., in this case use 30°). If you wish to convert your elliptical beam in to a round one, we suggest using an Anamorphic Prism Pair, which magnifies one axis of your beam.
Ø = Beam Diameter
Θ = Divergence Angle
From the information above, the focal length of the lens can be determined, using the thin lens approximation:
With this information known, it is now time to choose the appropriate collimating lens. Thorlabs offers a large selection of aspheric lenses to choose from. For this application the ideal lens is a -B AR-coated molded glass aspheric lens with focal length near 5.6 mm. The C171TMD-B (mounted) or 354171-B (unmounted) aspheric lenses have a focal length of 6.20 mm, which will result in a collimated beam diameter (major axis) of 3.3 mm. Next, check to see if the numerical aperture (NA) of the diode is smaller than the NA of the lens:
0.30 = NALens > NADiode ≈ sin(15°) = 0.26
Up to this point, we have been using the FWHM beam diameter to characterize the beam. However, a better practice is to use the 1/e2 beam diameter. For a Gaussian beam profile, the 1/e2 diameter is almost equal to 1.7X the FWHM diameter. The 1/e2 beam diameter therefore captures more of the laser diode's output light (for greater power delivery) and minimizes far-field diffraction (by clipping less of the incident light).
A good rule of thumb is to pick a lens with an NA twice of the NA of the laser diode. For example, either the A390-B or the A390TM-B could be used as these lenses each have an NA of 0.53, which is more than twice the approximate NA of our laser diode (0.26). Note that these lenses each have a focal length of 4.6 mm, resulting in an approximate major beam diameter of 2.5 mm.
Damage Threshold Data for Thorlabs' AR-Coated Molded Glass Aspheric Lenses
The specifications to the right are measured data for Thorlabs' AR-coated molded glass aspheric lenses. Damage threshold specifications are constant for all 405 nm or 1064 nm AR-coated molded glass aspheric lenses, regardless of the mounting option or focal length of the lens.
Laser Induced Damage Threshold Tutorial
The following is a general overview of how laser induced damage thresholds are measured and how the values may be utilized in determining the appropriateness of an optic for a given application. When choosing optics, it is important to understand the Laser Induced Damage Threshold (LIDT) of the optics being used. The LIDT for an optic greatly depends on the type of laser you are using. Continuous wave (CW) lasers typically cause damage from thermal effects (absorption either in the coating or in the substrate). Pulsed lasers, on the other hand, often strip electrons from the lattice structure of an optic before causing thermal damage. Note that the guideline presented here assumes room temperature operation and optics in new condition (i.e., within scratch-dig spec, surface free of contamination, etc.). Because dust or other particles on the surface of an optic can cause damage at lower thresholds, we recommend keeping surfaces clean and free of debris. For more information on cleaning optics, please see our Optics Cleaning tutorial.
Thorlabs' LIDT testing is done in compliance with ISO/DIS 11254 and ISO 21254 specifications.
The photograph above is a protected aluminum-coated mirror after LIDT testing. In this particular test, it handled 0.43 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 ns pulse, 10 Hz, Ø1.000 mm) before damage.
According to the test, the damage threshold of the mirror was 2.00 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 ns pulse, 10 Hz, Ø0.803 mm). Please keep in mind that these tests are performed on clean optics, as dirt and contamination can significantly lower the damage threshold of a component. While the test results are only representative of one coating run, Thorlabs specifies damage threshold values that account for coating variances.
Continuous Wave and Long-Pulse Lasers
When an optic is damaged by a continuous wave (CW) laser, it is usually due to the melting of the surface as a result of absorbing the laser's energy or damage to the optical coating (antireflection) . Pulsed lasers with pulse lengths longer than 1 µs can be treated as CW lasers for LIDT discussions.
When pulse lengths are between 1 ns and 1 µs, laser-induced damage can occur either because of absorption or a dielectric breakdown (therefore, a user must check both CW and pulsed LIDT). Absorption is either due to an intrinsic property of the optic or due to surface irregularities; thus LIDT values are only valid for optics meeting or exceeding the surface quality specifications given by a manufacturer. While many optics can handle high power CW lasers, cemented (e.g., achromatic doublets) or highly absorptive (e.g., ND filters) optics tend to have lower CW damage thresholds. These lower thresholds are due to absorption or scattering in the cement or metal coating.
Pulsed lasers with high pulse repetition frequencies (PRF) may behave similarly to CW beams. Unfortunately, this is highly dependent on factors such as absorption and thermal diffusivity, so there is no reliable method for determining when a high PRF laser will damage an optic due to thermal effects. For beams with a high PRF both the average and peak powers must be compared to the equivalent CW power. Additionally, for highly transparent materials, there is little to no drop in the LIDT with increasing PRF.
In order to use the specified CW damage threshold of an optic, it is necessary to know the following:
Thorlabs expresses LIDT for CW lasers as a linear power density measured in W/cm. In this regime, the LIDT given as a linear power density can be applied to any beam diameter; one does not need to compute an adjusted LIDT to adjust for changes in spot size, as demonstrated by the graph to the right. Average linear power density can be calculated using the equation below.
The calculation above assumes a uniform beam intensity profile. You must now consider hotspots in the beam or other non-uniform intensity profiles and roughly calculate a maximum power density. For reference, a Gaussian beam typically has a maximum power density that is twice that of the uniform beam (see lower right).
Now compare the maximum power density to that which is specified as the LIDT for the optic. If the optic was tested at a wavelength other than your operating wavelength, the damage threshold must be scaled appropriately. A good rule of thumb is that the damage threshold has a linear relationship with wavelength such that as you move to shorter wavelengths, the damage threshold decreases (i.e., a LIDT of 10 W/cm at 1310 nm scales to 5 W/cm at 655 nm):
While this rule of thumb provides a general trend, it is not a quantitative analysis of LIDT vs wavelength. In CW applications, for instance, damage scales more strongly with absorption in the coating and substrate, which does not necessarily scale well with wavelength. While the above procedure provides a good rule of thumb for LIDT values, please contact Tech Support if your wavelength is different from the specified LIDT wavelength. If your power density is less than the adjusted LIDT of the optic, then the optic should work for your application.
Please note that we have a buffer built in between the specified damage thresholds online and the tests which we have done, which accommodates variation between batches. Upon request, we can provide individual test information and a testing certificate. The damage analysis will be carried out on a similar optic (customer's optic will not be damaged). Testing may result in additional costs or lead times. Contact Tech Support for more information.
As previously stated, pulsed lasers typically induce a different type of damage to the optic than CW lasers. Pulsed lasers often do not heat the optic enough to damage it; instead, pulsed lasers produce strong electric fields capable of inducing dielectric breakdown in the material. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to compare the LIDT specification of an optic to your laser. There are multiple regimes in which a pulsed laser can damage an optic and this is based on the laser's pulse length. The highlighted columns in the table below outline the relevant pulse lengths for our specified LIDT values.
Pulses shorter than 10-9 s cannot be compared to our specified LIDT values with much reliability. In this ultra-short-pulse regime various mechanics, such as multiphoton-avalanche ionization, take over as the predominate damage mechanism . In contrast, pulses between 10-7 s and 10-4 s may cause damage to an optic either because of dielectric breakdown or thermal effects. This means that both CW and pulsed damage thresholds must be compared to the laser beam to determine whether the optic is suitable for your application.
When comparing an LIDT specified for a pulsed laser to your laser, it is essential to know the following:
The energy density of your beam should be calculated in terms of J/cm2. The graph to the right shows why expressing the LIDT as an energy density provides the best metric for short pulse sources. In this regime, the LIDT given as an energy density can be applied to any beam diameter; one does not need to compute an adjusted LIDT to adjust for changes in spot size. This calculation assumes a uniform beam intensity profile. You must now adjust this energy density to account for hotspots or other nonuniform intensity profiles and roughly calculate a maximum energy density. For reference a Gaussian beam typically has a maximum energy density that is twice that of the 1/e2 beam.
Now compare the maximum energy density to that which is specified as the LIDT for the optic. If the optic was tested at a wavelength other than your operating wavelength, the damage threshold must be scaled appropriately . A good rule of thumb is that the damage threshold has an inverse square root relationship with wavelength such that as you move to shorter wavelengths, the damage threshold decreases (i.e., a LIDT of 1 J/cm2 at 1064 nm scales to 0.7 J/cm2 at 532 nm):
You now have a wavelength-adjusted energy density, which you will use in the following step.
Beam diameter is also important to know when comparing damage thresholds. While the LIDT, when expressed in units of J/cm², scales independently of spot size; large beam sizes are more likely to illuminate a larger number of defects which can lead to greater variances in the LIDT . For data presented here, a <1 mm beam size was used to measure the LIDT. For beams sizes greater than 5 mm, the LIDT (J/cm2) will not scale independently of beam diameter due to the larger size beam exposing more defects.
The pulse length must now be compensated for. The longer the pulse duration, the more energy the optic can handle. For pulse widths between 1 - 100 ns, an approximation is as follows:
Use this formula to calculate the Adjusted LIDT for an optic based on your pulse length. If your maximum energy density is less than this adjusted LIDT maximum energy density, then the optic should be suitable for your application. Keep in mind that this calculation is only used for pulses between 10-9 s and 10-7 s. For pulses between 10-7 s and 10-4 s, the CW LIDT must also be checked before deeming the optic appropriate for your application.
Please note that we have a buffer built in between the specified damage thresholds online and the tests which we have done, which accommodates variation between batches. Upon request, we can provide individual test information and a testing certificate. Contact Tech Support for more information.
 R. M. Wood, Optics and Laser Tech. 29, 517 (1998).
The table below contains all molded visible and near-IR aspheric lenses offered by Thorlabs. For our selection of IR molded aspheres, click here. The item # listed is that of the unmounted, uncoated lens. An "X" in any of the five AR Coating Columns indicates the lens is available with that coating (note that the V coating availability is indicated with the design wavelength). The table to the right defines each letter and lists the specified AR coating range. Click on the linked X's to purchase the specific lens, which is available mounted and unmounted.