Colloquia & Guest Speakers

Better, cheaper, and easier-to-build optical designs through tolerance-informed optimization

Brian Bauman, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Monday, October 22, 2018
3 p.m.

Goergen 101

Brian Bauman


This talk will describe a significant new advance in optical design:  an approach to optimizing as-built optical designs, i.e., to design systems so that they perform as well as possible when built, with realistic tolerances and compensation schemes incorporated into the optimization process.  Further, this approach involves very little extra computational load.  The talk will feature a description of the approach and some initial designs created by this method showing improved as-built performance.

The method uses insights from perturbed optical system theory (Nodal Aberration Theory) and reformulates perturbation of optical performance in terms of double Zernikes which are much faster computationally than tracing large sets of rays. A new theory of compensation using these double Zernikes allows the performance degradation of a perturbed and compensated optical system to be calculated analytically with a fast matrix multiplication using paraxial quantities rather than by iteration involving tracing large sets of rays.  Thus, no additional ray-tracing beyond that used in nominal design is required.

The end result is that this theory allows for better-performing designs because the tolerancing is fully integrated into the computer-aided design process.  This approach is expected to generate designs that are better-performing and less expensive to build.  In addition, this approach could allow designers to access new areas of design space that perform well when built, but which are currently overlooked because the nominal performance is not optimal.  The talk will include discussion of the theory behind this approach and examples of improved designs using these techniques.


Brian Bauman is an optical engineer and researcher in computationally-efficient optical-design optimization techniques at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Some of his previous work has been implemented in the Zemax optical-software package.  He is the author of breakthrough work in tolerance/compensator-informed optimization of optical designs.

Bauman has been optical engineer for several astronomical instruments, including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, Gemini Planet Imager, and the Lick Observatory adaptive-optics system. He has created monolithic optics, a rugged, athermal, extremely compact telescope suitable for space and high-g-load launches (TRL 8). Bauman served as optical engineer on a number of adaptive-optics programs for directed-energy and vision-research applications, as well as for 3D printing and spectroscopic applications.

Bauman is the author or coauthor on 70+ papers and an inventor or coinventor on three patents, with one patent pending.  In his twenty-two years at LLNL, Bauman has been highly regarded for his creativity and innovation.

Brian Bauman earned his B.S. in Engineering Physics from University of California, San Diego, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona.

Location: Goergen 101

Refreshments will be served.