Photography by H. Werij, TNO
Opto-mechatronics 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.