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MDL is working with scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the University of Arizona and Subaru Telescope in an effort to directly image exoplanets. Light reflected from a planet is necessary for spectroscopic observations, which are used to determine its chemical composition and the possibility of life. © Photo courtesy Andrew Richard Hara.

Optical Components

MDL’s precision optical devices are at the heart of instruments that realize new capabilities across wavelengths from the ultraviolet to far-infrared.

MDL develops electron-beam lithography techniques to fabricate unique nanostructures and optics that enable JPL instruments to perform novel measurements. The development of reliable binary nanopatterning processes as well as unique analog (grayscale) lithography processes to fabricate surface relief profiles in polymers and substrate materials has allowed the creation of nearly arbitrary transmissive and reflective diffractive optics such as blazed gratings, lenses, and computer-generated holograms, for wavelengths ranging from ultraviolet to long-wave infrared. Further, we have developed custom e-beam calibration techniques, substrate mounting fixtures, and pattern preparation software to allow fabrication of these diffractive optics on nonflat (convex or concave) substrates with several millimeters of height variation. This has enabled the fabrication of high-performance convex and concave diffraction gratings for Offner and Dyson type imaging spectrometers that have been used for many airborne and spaceborne instruments.