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Guide t o Handling & Cleaning Research Optics. Farshid Manoocheri. Handling Optics Hold an optic only by its edge. Never touch an optic with your bare hands Always use a clean, lint-free cloth, latex gloves or finger cots.

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Handling Optics

Hold an optic only by its edge

Never touch an optic with your bare hands

Always use a clean, lint-free cloth, latex gloves or finger cots

Never touch the surface of an optic, even with gloves or finger cots.

handling optics
Handling Optics
  • Never lay an optic on a dirty
  • or an uncovered surface
  • Place an optic on top of
  • several sheets of lens tissues
  • or optical cloth
  • When not in use
  • Cover your optics
  • store them in a dry , dust-free area

Every cleaning method has risk of damage

  • Should you remove an optic from its mount?
  • If the optic is intended to be removable
    • Take the optic out from its mount and clean
  • Bonded optics should be cleaned carefully with its mount
  • Prepare the area first
  • Provide a soft landing
  • Use edge restraints
  • Pour cleaning solution onto the optic
    • Do not dip the tissue into solution
identifying the contaminant
Identifying the contaminant
  • Know your Optic and Your Enemy Before cleaning
  • Know your optic
    • Is it soft or hard?
    • Durable surface finish?
  • Identify the contaminant(s)
    • Particulates
    • Thin film
    • both
  • Determine what is clean enough
    • Establish and document a standard of cleanliness
  • Match the cleaning method to the contaminant and the optic
prevention of thin film contamination
Prevention of thin film contamination
  • Never touch an optical surface with your bare fingers. Oil creeps!
  • Physically remove all machinery or isolate it so that airborne oil can not circulate to optics
  • Use clean room techniques to filter air streams used to clean optics
  • Avoid using cooled optical surfaces at temperatures below ambient

Oil films can coat particles, making them extremely difficult to remove.


Safety Consideration for Common Solvents

  • Safety Hazards
  • Toxcity
  • Flammability
  • Reactivity
  • Attack the optical material
  • Potential as an irritant

Do not rely on odor as a guide

- Check exposure limits for any solvent you use

- Aceton is well detectedbelow exposure limit

- Some materials are detected well in excess of limit

Alcohols High Flammability, Low Reactivity

chemical attack on optical glasses
Chemical Attack on Optical Glasses

Chemicals leach materials out of surface

Fused silica glass is resistant to all

except to Hydrofluoric acid

BK7 glass can be damaged by climate, alkalin solutions

  • Typical visible surface changes:
  • No change
  • Scarred surface but no color change
  • Interference colors
  • Whitish staining
  • White coating

Some UV transmitting ”Black Glasses” are fogged by moisture in the air.

Do not leave these exposed to the atmosphere for long periods of time.


Chemical Attack on Optical Glasses

Finger prints etch into the optics if exposed to UV light long enough

Enclose your optics

Consider coating them with a protective coating.

routine cleaning procedure
Routine Cleaning Procedure
  • Essential Materials for Routine Cleaning:
  • Latex gloves or finger cots ( Be careful with Acetone)
  • Clean , well-lit working area
  • Optical cleaning cloth
  • Lens tissues and pads
  • Dust bulb or source of clean filtered air
  • A bright inspection light (microscope illuminator or flsh light
  • Suitable solvents (never use Alcohol for Aluminum coated optics)
  • Solvent dispensers

Drag Wipe Method

  • Suitable for
  • Removing dust
  • Fresh fingerprints
  • Thin contaminant films

Remove loose particulates by blowing or brushing

Drop one or two drops of the cleaning solvent directly on the optic

Drape a clean piece of lens tissue on the wetted surface

Drag the tissue across the surface gently

Repeat a few times steps 2-4 until optic is clean

Do not reuse solvent or lens tissues


Dielectric Coated Optics

  • Found in:
  • Reflectors
  • Beam splitters
  • Windows
  • Filters
  • Very thin layers , i.e. <1 µm in thickness
  • Place the optic with the surface to clean facing up
  • Remove any surface dust
    • Or use strippable coating to remove surface dirt
  • Inspect with your light to ensure complete removal of loose particulates
  • Use the Drag-Wipe Cleaning Method to remove any film contaminants
strippable cleaning protective coating
Strippable Cleaning & Protective Coating
  • Strippable coatings can clean & protect
  • Non-metallic coated optics
  • Uncoated optics
  • Use it for uncoated glass types and plastics:
  • Fused silica
  • BK7
  • Borosilicate
  • Soda lime
  • Prevents
  • Contamination
  • Scratches
  • Digs
  • Use it for
  • Shipping
  • Storage
  • During experiment set-ups
strippable cleaning protective coating ii
Strippable Cleaning & Protective Coating II

2. Wait for the coating to cure about 15 minutes for smal optics or until entire surface looks cloudy.

3. Peel coating off with an adhesive backed lable. (White envelope lables work well)

Pour coating in the centre & use a bristle brush to evenly coat the surface

strippable cleaning protective coating iii
Strippable Cleaning & Protective Coating III
  • Tips
  • If lable does not peel off the coating
    • Chill the optic in a refrigerator for a few minutes before using the adhesive lable
  • Do not remove an uncured film, this will not remove the contaminant
  • To clean a small mirror or laser rod,
    • Wrap a lable around the periphery, up to the face to be cleaned
  • Apply the coating to the faces
    • After curing unroll the lable first
cleaning metallic reflectors soft optics
Cleaning Metallic Reflectors & Soft Optics
  • Metallic reflectors reuire special care in cleaning
  • Can be easily damaged
  • Soft, bare metal coatings canot be contact cleaned
    • Diffraction gratings uncoated metal mirrors, etc.
  • If metal is overcoated (typical)
    • Can clean with gentle cleaner or acetone using Drag-Wipe method

Remove large particles ( brucsh, dust bulb, dry clean nitrogen)

Use the Drag-Wipe method

Except for chrome, most bare metals are very soft.

Do not contact clean

If you have no choice then

Remove dust

Pour acetone (or suitable fluide from the optic vendor

Dry with nitrogen

cleaning interference filters
Cleaning Interference Filters
  • UV-VIS Narrowband filters are sealed sandwich structures
  • The rim seal can be damaged by aggressive solvents
  • Breaking the seal will greatly shorten the useful life of the filter
  • .
  • If absoulutely necessary to clean, then
  • Use Drag-Wipe method with mild solvents
    • Strart from a small spot in the centre
    • Use gentle circural movement toward outer edge
    • Repeat
other cleaning methods
Other cleaning methods

Scrub (for hard optics)

Heat the solvents

Use more agressive solvents

Ultrasonic cleaning

Vapor degreasing

Plasma cleaning

UV/Ozone cleaning

Repolish the surface

Etch the surface

Not all cleaning methods are usable on every optic.

Know your optic before implementing any cleaning procedure.


Ultrasonic cleaning

For heavily soiled optics that can withstand detergents and/or distiled water

storing optics and disposal of chemicals
Storing Optics and Disposal of Chemicals
  • All optics should be stored when Not in use
  • Wrap the opic carefully in well cushioned packaging.
    • Use lens tissue and then bubble wrap
    • Use opic boxes with dividers
    • Do not use general purpose tissues or Chemi-wipes
  • Store in a clean, dry, moderate temperature enviornment (eg. Dry cabinet in our corridore in the basement)

Store easily stained materials with sensitive coatings in a drawer with desiccant (Gels)

3. Mark optic boxes with ”Fragile” stickers


Check the latest version safety instructions to ensure that you are following the regulations relevant for the cleaning solvents you use