Freeform and conformal optics have the potential to dramatically improve optical systems by enabling systems with fewer optical components, reduced aberrations, and improved aerodynamic performance. These optical components differ from standard components in their surface shape, typically a non-symmetric equation based definition, and material properties. Traditional grinding and polishing tools are unable to handle these freeform shapes. Additionally, standard metrology tools cannot measure these surfaces. Desired substrates are typically hard ceramics, including poly-crystalline alumina or aluminum oxynitride. Notwithstanding the challenges that the hardness provides to manufacturing, these crystalline materials can be highly susceptible to grain decoration creating unacceptable scatter in optical systems.
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