Posted in | Optical Windows

Precision Engineered Optical Domes for Demanding Applications

Avantier has the expertise to create unique optical dome solutions for a wide range of substrates and sizes. Whether users demand increased endurance in high-pressure settings or precise optical quality, Avantier’s team can develop and produce the ideal optical dome for a specific application.

Optical domes, also known as hemispheric optical windows, are essential for transmitting light while simultaneously serving as a protective boundary between two systems or environments.

These specialized optical components are frequently employed to protect delicate optical systems in demanding situations. For example, in aerospace engineering, they shield LIDAR optical sensors from the impact of fast-moving objects.

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Large Optical Dome (φ240 mm).

Large Optical Dome (φ240mm). Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

Small Optical Dome (φ10 mm).

Small Optical Dome (φ10mm). Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

H-K9L Dome (φ60 mm).

H-K9L Dome (φ60mm). Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

Sapphire Dome (φ20 mm).

Sapphire Dome (φ20mm). Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

JGS1 Dome (φ110 mm).

JGS1 Dome (φ110mm). Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

Custom Optical Domes.

Custom Optical Domes. Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

Discover Precision Optics: Optical Dome

Video Credit: Avantier Inc.

Types of Optical Domes Solutions

Infrared optical domes play an important role in defense applications, with sapphire and diamond emerging as preferred materials. Sapphire, known for its extraordinary hardness (second only to diamond), is extremely scratch and abrasion-resistant. It can endure high pressure and transmits 80% of light between 2–5 µm wavelengths.

Zinc selenide, germanium, calcium fluorite, zinc sulfide, and silicon are all viable alternatives to sapphire for infrared dome applications. Silicon is known for its strong thermal conductivity, low density, and major transmission characteristics in the 3–5μm range. Furthermore, it is the least expensive of the listed infrared materials.

The substrate used to make an optical dome determines whether it is suited for visible, ultraviolet, or infrared applications. Here are a few popular options.

Fused Silica Dome: This substrate is ideal for visible light applications, providing excellent transmission between the 300 nm to 2 µm wavelength range. It is resistant to both high-pressure and chemical etching. Avantier can produce UV-fused silica optical glass domes for UV-range light transmission. This optical glass transmits about 85 percent of wavelengths up to 185 nm.

Fused Silica Dome, φ 120 mm.

Fused Silica Dome, φ120mm. Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

Sapphire Dome: Sapphire is ideal for infrared optical dome applications, transmitting up to 80% of light in the 2–5 µm wavelength range. It is exceptionally scratch and abrasion-resistant, making it an ideal material for defense applications and high-pressure settings, such as underwater camera systems for deep-sea research.

Sapphire Dome.

Sapphire Dome. Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

Germanium Dome: Diamond anti-reflection coatings can be applied on germanium domes, which transmit light between 2–14 μm and are durable in severe settings.

Germanium Dome.

Germanium Dome. Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

ZnSe, ideal for IR domes, has superior optical characteristics and a wider wavelength range (3 µm to 16 µm) than sapphire. However, operating is less difficult and works better in more regulated conditions. Due to the high index of refraction, anti-reflection coatings are advised.

Zinc Selenide (ZnSe) Dome.

Zinc Selenide (ZnSe) Dome. Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

MgF2 ceramic domes have a high flexural strength rating and a Knoop hardness value of 1350 kg/mm², providing strong transmission from 2 µm to 7.5 µm. The hot press production process offers greater flexibility in dome shape and size, making it an ideal substrate for launch tubes and missiles.

MgF2 Ceramic Dome, φ224 mm.

MgF2 Ceramic Dome, φ224mm. Image Credit: Avantier Inc.

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Custom Optical Domes Applications

They are also employed in weather monitoring, navigation systems, half-space observation, head protection optics, and security technologies.

Underwater Cameras and Imaging: They allow precision optical components to perform smoothly in deep-sea environments under extreme pressure. They keep water out of the optic system and provide a clean field of view for submersible ROVs and AUVs.

Defense: Infrared optical domes are critical for heat-seeking missiles because they provide broad viewing directions without beam deflection. Even in harsh environments, durable substrates such as sapphire or MgF2 function admirably.

Weather Monitoring: They are employed in weather monitoring systems to protect optical components while still providing reliable measurements.

Navigation Systems: They play an important role in navigation systems, assuring accuracy and safety.

Head Protection Optics: In certain cases, they are employed to shield the head while providing optical functionality.

Security Technology: They are used in security systems to conduct surveillance and monitoring.

Optical Domes Manufacturing Capability

Source: Avantier Inc.

. .
Material BK7, CaF2, Cleartran, Fused Silica, MgF2, etc
Diameter  2~500 mm
Thickness  >1 mm
Coating  AR coating for VIS, SWIR, NIR, MWIR, LWIR, broadband
Surface Accuracy  1/10-1 lambda
Dimensional Tolerance  +/-0.1 mm
Surface Quality 20/10-60/40
Clear Aperture 90%
Environment Testing Extreme cold-heat cycle, sandblasting, salt water, adhesive test
Specification Testing Qualification Test, Optimization Test, Dimensional Test, According to DIN, ISO and MIL standards


Custom Optical Domes Solutions

Avantier specializes in developing unique optical dome solutions that are suited to each customer's individual needs. Instead of providing a static list of catalog alternatives, Avantier works directly with clients to understand their needs and select appropriate substrates, coatings, and geometric designs for the best performance.

Avantier’s optical engineers are experts in creating high-precision geometric designs and selecting suitable optical coatings. With access to a variety of substrate materials, including fused silica, sapphire, MgF2, and ZnSe, they can develop unique adapter interface surface designs with mechanical mounts tailored to the application.

The advanced in-house production machinery makes it possible to produce optical domes with precise dimensions, offering premium optics at competitive prices.

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