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Freeform Optics

27 June 2021 – 01 July 2021 OSA Virtual Event - Eastern Daylight Time (UTC - 04:00)

Freeform Optics explores the evolving impact of freeform optical surfaces on optical systems for both imaging and nonimaging.

New fabrication techniques that create optical surfaces that are not surfaces of revolution open an expansive new space for optical systems. Particularly enabled systems include illumination systems, head-worn displays and mid- and long-wave pervasive surveillance systems. But optical testing methods for these new surfaces are lacking, and the theory and implementation of an aberration theory as a basis for optical design of these surfaces was only unraveled in 2012.

The scope features work on the optical design of imaging systems with freeform surfaces, evolving methods for surface representation for non-imaging system optimization and a perspective on the new challenges these surface present to optical testing.


With the ever expanding successes from the introduction of freeform surfaces into both imaging and nonimaging optical systems, there is innovative work being done in both academia and industry in all areas of optical system evolution including:

  •     Optical design
  •     Optical system simulation
  •     Surface representation
  •     Fabrication
  •     Metrology
  •     Optical system assembly



  • Jessica DeGroote Nelson, Optimax Systems Inc, United StatesChair
  • Fabian Duerr, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, BelgiumChair
  • John Rogers, Synopsys, Inc, United StatesChair
  • Jannick Rolland, University of Rochester, United StatesChair
  • Aaron Bauer, University of Rochester, United States
  • Matt Davies, Univ of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States
  • Scott Defisher, OptiPro Systems, United States
  • Ulrike Fuchs, asphericon GmbH, Germany
  • Kyle Fuerschbach, Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, United States
  • Roland Geyl, REOSC, France
  • Joseph Howard, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, United States
  • John Koshel, University of Arizona, United States
  • Roy McBride, PowerPhotonic Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Juan Carlos Miñano, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Brigid Mullany, Univ of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States
  • Kristen Venditti, Lockheed Martin Corporation, United States
  • Yongtian Wang, Beijing Institute of Technology, China
  • Rengmao Wu, Zhejiang University, China
  • Yongjun Xie, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Xuejun Zhang, Changchun Inst of Optic, Fine Mech & Phy, China


  • Matthew Brand, Mitsubishi Electric Research LabsUnited States
    Bounds on Sharply Resolved Detail in Freeform Irradiance Images from Extended Light Sources
  • Caleb Gannon, University of ArizonaUnited States
    Interactive Freeform Optical Design
  • Jonathan Papa, University of RochesterUnited States
    Survey of the Four-mirror Freeform Imager Solution Space
  • Lotte Romijn, Technische Universiteit EindhovenNetherlands
    Mathematics for Point Source Freeform Tailoring
  • Thomas Suleski, Univ of North Carolina at CharlotteUnited States
    Towards Conformally Nanostructured Freeform Optics
  • Natalia Trela-McDonald, PowerPhotonic LtdUnited Kingdom
    Laser-polished Freeform Beam Shapers
  • Xuejun Zhang, Changchun Inst of Optic, Fine Mech & PhyChina
    Freeform Mirror Fabrication for Space Telescope


Plenary Session

James Wyant

University of Arizona

History of Interferometric Optical Testing

This talk will trace the history of the use of interferometry in testing optical components and optical systems. Early interferometers will be discussed, and special emphasis will be given to the enhancements provided by the use of lasers, electronics and computers.

About the Speaker

James C. Wyant is professor emeritus and Founding Dean at the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, where he was Director (1999-2005), Dean (2005-2012), and a faculty member since 1974. He received a B.S. in physics from Case Western Reserve University and M.S. and Ph.D. in optics from the University of Rochester. He was a founder of the WYKO Corporation and served as its president and board chairman from 1984 to 1997 and he was a founder of the 4D Technology Corporation and served as its board chairman from 2002 to 2018. Wyant is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, and a Fellow of OSA and SPIE. He is a former editor-in-chief of the OSA journal Applied Optics and he was the 2010 president of OSA and the 1986 president of SPIE.

Julius Muschaweck

JMO Illumination Optics

Freeform Optics for Illumination and Imaging: Quite a Ride, and Still a Long Way to Go

In the decades since nodal aberration theory, the basis of freeform imaging optics, was found, and the problem of tailoring freeform optics for illumination was first solved for point sources, freeform optics has developed into a semi-mature state: Used in many products, but not fully understood – routinely manufactured, but hard to tolerance. Some key pieces of theoretical understanding, accessible design methods, and reliable yet affordable manufacturing processes still wait to be discovered.

About the Speaker

Julius Muschaweck, a physicist, is the owner and CEO of his company, JMO. After receiving his M.D. from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany in 1989 and a stay as Visiting Scholar at the University of Chicago, he co-founded and ran OEC, a unique combination of optical engineering service and pioneering freeform optics research institute. In 2006, he moved on to OSRAM, where he became Senior Principal Key Expert for Optical Design, and in 2013 joined ARRI, the maker of professional movie cameras and lamp heads, as Principal Optical Scientist. He is Senior Member of OSA, authored over 25 scientific papers and is the inventor of over 50 patents. Throughout his career, his work focuses on applying the theory of thermodynamics of light to everyday problems in illumination optics. Since 2018, he is again a freelance scientist, helping companies to understand and solve their problems in illumination optics, and teaching courses to engineers in industry on how to find good optical designs based on insights from both first principles and practical experience.

Joseph M. Howard

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Current and Future NASA Space Telescopes

Astronomy is arguably in a golden age, where current and future NASA space telescopes are expected to contribute to this rapid growth in understanding of our universe. A summary of our current space assets will be given, as well as an update on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), almost ready for launch. Future telescopes will also be discussed, including the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (RST), the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), as well as mission concept studies being prioritized in the 2020 Decadal Survey in Astrophysics.

About the Speaker

Joseph M. Howard received BS in physics from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and his Ph.D. in Optical Design from The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York. He now serves as an optical designer for NASA, working on projects including the James Webb Space Telescope, the Roman Space Telescope, LISA, and the other future space missions. Joe lives with his wife, two children, and dog and cat in Washington DC.


Special Events

Crossroads of Freeform and Flat Optics

Reflective, refractive, and diffractive optics each offer unique capabilities for imaging and non-imaging applications.  This symposium focuses on novel opportunities at the intersection of freeform and flat optics, including the co-design of different modalities in optics and new opportunities for inverse design.

This is a joint session for Flat Optics and Freeform. 

Lens Design with Flat Optical and Metasurface Components

New fabrication techniques have been pushing the boundary of available optical components. This joint session between Flat Optics and IODC focuses on a discussion of how novel optical components, including metasurfaces, diffractive surfaces and GRIN, can be applied in lens design for better performance.

This is a joint session for Flat Optics and IODC. 

Best Student Paper Competition: Congratulations to the 2021 Winners and Finalists

Flat Optics: Components to Systems


Yifei Zhang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States (FTu4A.5)
Electrically Reconfigurable Nonvolatile Metasurface based on Phase Change Materials


Cheng Guo, Stanford University, United States (FM4B.4)
Squeeze free space with nonlocal flat optics device

Brian Raeker, University of Michigan, United States (FM3C.2)
Spatial Amplitude and Phase Control with High-Efficiency Meta-optics

Md Saad-Bin-Alam, University of Ottawa, Canada (FM3C.4)
Ultra-High-Q (~2400) Lattice Resonances in Plasmonic Metasurface for Flat Optics

Freeform Optics


ShiLi Wei, Huazhong University of Sci. & Tech., China​ (JTh1A.6)
Design of freeform illumination optics by deconvolving the blur from extended sources


Yuxuan Liu, University of Rochester, United States (RW1A.5)
CubeSat Format Freeform Hyperspectral Imager

Alejandro Madrid Sánchez, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium (ITh2A.4)
Freeform beam shaping optics design through reproducible ray-mapping and surface optimization

Zhu Zhengbo, Huazhong Univ of Science & Technology, China (Th4A.7)
Freeform illumination design on 3D target surfaces via a virtual irradiance transformation

International Optical Design Conference


Congli Wang, King Abdullah University of Science and TechnologySaudi Arabia (JTh4A.2)
Lens design optimization by back-propagation


Nicholas Kochan, University of Rochester, United States (JTh4A.5)
Evaluating ophthalmic progressive addition lens designs with freeform surfaces and gradient index optics

Zheng Li, Fraunhofer IOSB, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany (ITu2A.6)
Resolution enhancement of low-NA objectives in confocal fluorescence microscopy by diffractive lens arrays

Shohreh Shadalou, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States (ITh2A.3)
Tunable LED-based Illuminator Using Freeform Arrays

Optical Fabrication and Testing


Luke DeMars, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States (OW3B.2)
Separating and Estimating Impacts of Anisotropic Mid-Spatial Frequency Errors


Joel Berkson, University of Arizona, United States (JTu2B.2)
Fringe Projection Metrology for Thermoformed Millimeter Wave Freeform Optical Elements

Jimin Han, Kyung Hee University, South Korea  (OW2B.7)
Lightweight Aluminum Mirror with Duplex Layers

Vipender Negi, Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO) Campus, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO), India (OW2B.2)
Smoothing Effect Analysis for Active Fluid Jet Polishing


Image for keeping the session alive