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Optical Components and Systems

  1. Gerd Litfin,
  2. Rainer Schuhmann

Published Online: 15 OCT 2004

DOI: 10.1002/3527600434.eap285.pub2

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

How to Cite

Litfin, G. and Schuhmann, R. 2004. Optical Components and Systems. Encyclopedia of Applied Physics. .

Author Information

  1. LINOS AG, Göttingen, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 OCT 2004


This article gives an overview of geometrical optics and includes the most important formulas as well as a few optical systems of general interest.

It describes the main optical components such as lenses, mirrors, plane plates, prisms, fibers, and thin films and their influence on light beams as light propagation and polarization. The principles of reflection and refraction are discussed as well as the optical imaging based on first-order optics. The basic formulas are given.

The discussion on plano-optics considers the spectral properties of filters and prisms, the change of image orientation by a single prism and prism systems, beam splitting, and polarization effects due to birefringence of crystal components. Total internal reflection can guide light in optical fibers. Different fiber types are described.

Besides single components as best-form lenses and doublets, only multielement optical systems can meet the requirements of different imaging applications. Therefore, a selection of well-known optical systems considering their main properties is described. This includes camera lenses, microscopes, and more sophisticated optical systems as well as a short side-glance on the requirements of interferometers that cannot be described by the geometrical optics approach.

Furthermore, a section on optical bench systems summarizes the necessary support of optics by mechanical components. This includes bench profiles and structural systems using the micro bench.


  • geometrical optics;
  • technical optics;
  • optical components;
  • optical systems;
  • optical bench system;
  • lenses;
  • mirrors;
  • prisms;
  • polarizers;
  • optical fibers