Opto-Mechatronics is a specialized field combining many expertise areas and is widely present in the High-Tech industry. This track is an excellent start to becoming a multi-disciplinary researcher or system designer in micro-optics and opto-mechatronics.
Optomechtronical systems and products are all around us. The zoom lens of a camera. The same but then in vacuum or cryogenic environment. Or robust enough to survive a rocket launch yet with sufficient precision to make detailed earth observations. A wafer scanner writing structures as small as 10 nm on chips via its 15 meter long optical path comprising over 50 optical elements, controlled using a variety of optical sensors. Micro system technology enabling the realisation of micrometer small optical systems, such as sensors integrated in catheters for diagnosis in the smallest blood vessels of our body. A telescope gathering star light photon-by-photon from the outskirts of the universe using a 40-meter primary multi-mirror composed of hundreds of actively controlled units, each suspended by thermally compensated precision mechanisms. High-end spectrometers analysing the stellar radiation helping us unravel the mystery of the origin of the universe. All these systems are examples of high-end opto-mechatronics or micro-optical systems. They are also products of the industries involved in our research programme in micro-optics and opto-mechatronics that defines the next steps for industry and science in subjects such as metrology with picometer accuracy, low-light astronomy, precision 3D printing, or optical fiber technology.
By nature the Opto-Mechatronics course programme is a multi-disciplinary programme. We offer a curriculum which will educate you to become an excellent opto-mechatronics engineer. The track will teach you the fundamentals of optics in theory and practice, as well as understanding of high-end optical systems like microscopes, telescopes, interferometers and digital mirror devices. This expertise is combined with mechatronic system design treating dynamics and motion control; micro-system design expertise covering lithography-based micromanufacturing and optical fibers; adaptive optics on actively deformable mirrors and their integration in an opto-mechatronic system; and a course on design principles for precision positioning and thermomechanical stability. In addition there is room for electives, such as for instance on more generic topics like engineering dynamics or sensors and actuators, or more specialized ones like space instrumentation or quantum optics, the choice is yours. The combination of these areas forms an excellent basis to becoming an opto-mechatronic scientist or system designer of high-end optical equipment. Experts from different faculties are involved in the curriculum. The programme has been developed in close collaboration with partners outside the university. Therefore several guest lectures and many of our graduation assignments are defined together with the companies involved, TNO or other research groups.
Optomechatronics is a very wide and multi-disciplinary field. Many specialties come together and one of the challenges is to combine all of these in functional systems that satisfy high performance demands. In the OM track we distinguish two main research areas, Micro-optics and Opto-mechatronics, each encompassing the above characteristics, yet each at a different length scale
The field of opto-mechatronics deals with High-Tech systems where optical units dominate the speed and precision of operation. High end lenses and mirrors tend to be large and heavy yet need to be moved and positioned with extreme accuracy and repeatability. This is true for light operated manufacturing processes like lithography for semiconductor production and for 3D metal printing, as well as extreme accuracy measurement systems and telescopes for astronomy. Opto-mechatronics by nature is a multi-disciplinary field integrating optics and mechatronic system design, using actuators, sensors and control techniques for building smart and adaptive optical systems.
An emerging trend is evolving towards micro-optics, providing solutions in high-capacity telecommunication, distributed measurement, as well as integration of optical and mechatronic elements for micro opto-electro-mechanical systems (MOEMS), and advanced optical elements for biological and chemical sensing. Of special interest are flexible photonic systems, with links to adaptive optics and compliant mechanisms, with application in flexible displays, and in waveguides for flexible integrated optical circuits. This entails many challenges in numerical modeling, design, materials such as polymer or (silicon) semiconductor nanophotonics, and production.
The new Track OM is currently offered as a focus area within the track HTE. This has no consequence on the content or formalities whatsoever but gives students more flexibility in choosing electives and liaising with a larger student population.