Europe, UK, Asia & RoW: [email protected] +44 (0)1622 859444 | USA & Canada: [email protected] +1 401-583-7846

Electronics and Optoelectronics: Key Considerations When Choosing Optical Components

17th Dec 2018

There are some exceptionally demanding environments out there in which electronic and optoelectronic systems are expected to perform optimally. Whether these systems are depended upon for communications, intelligence or anything else, they need to be 100 per cent reliable. This means that the components within them must also be reliable, to the highest degree.

For this reason, choosing the right precision optical components is a vital task that must be undertaken with great care. But what should be considered when making these choices? This is precisely what we are looking at in this post.

Factors to consider when choosing optical components for electronics and optoelectronics applications

Whether you are in the market for optical filters, lenses, prisms, windows or mirrors, or any other optical component for your electronics and optoelectronics applications, the following are the key considerations you will need to explore.


Your choice of material for your optical component will depend upon your required transmission range, together with environmental traits, and the specifics of your application. Different materials have varying optimum transmission ranges, and some are far more durable in extreme conditions than others.

You will need to consider not just climatic extremes and variations, but also the likes of chemical contact; contact with natural substances such as saline; exposure to abrasion, impact and scratching and conductivity.

In particularly challenging environments for example, sapphire is proving itself to be one of the most durable materials. Sapphire windows, lenses and prisms are in demand throughout the military and defence, space, medical and research sectors due to their exceptional durability. Second only to diamond when it comes to natural hardness, sapphire is the premier choice for optical components that need to withstand chemical contact and extreme temperatures up to 2030 degrees Celsius.

Borosilicate is another material that presents excellent resistance to chemicals and saline. Its low thermal expansion allows it to survive rapid temperature changes without cracking or shattering like other materials would. Commonly used for infrared-cut filters in camera detector systems, and also to make toughened windows for optical systems used in industrial environments and for underwater cameras, borosilicate offers excellent thermal and chemical shock resistance and the ability to withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius.

For applications that lend themselves to the use of ball lenses, there is a wide variety of choice in material. For demanding environments fused silica or quartz make good choices thanks to their low thermal expansion. Again sapphire is a highly desirable material due to its exceptional strength and chemical stability as well as its superior optical transmission qualities.

Always remember to also look at transmission ranges when choosing materials for your optical components as they can vary extensively. It is always advisable to seek professional advice in this respect to ensure you are selecting the material that will provide you with the best possible quality and reliability.


Coatings applied to optical components can significantly improve efficiency in respect of transmission, and reflection and absorption. As with materials, different coatings will offer varying benefits. But it is not just the coating itself that can make the difference: the method by which it is applied will also have an effect.

Light transmission in borosilicate infrared-cut filters, for example, is much improved with the addition of an antireflective hot mirror coating to the rear surface.

Ball lenses also benefit from an anti-reflective coating, and broadband anti-reflective coated optical windows will achieve exceptionally low reflection, even in the higher wavelength bands.

Custom coatings that work well with electronic and optoelectronic components include ITO, AR, hydrophobic, DLC and blocking coatings.

Other options

A range of other options may be considered when choosing optical components for electronic and optoelectronic applications. This is where seeking expert, tailored advice really does become very important indeed. Optical components can be greatly improved in efficiency, durability and performance by applying a range of techniques, although these will depend upon the precise nature of the application and the environment in which it is being used.

Telecoms windows, for example, can be sandblasted with special patterns; crafted into unusual shapes; screen printed and edge polished. Infrared-cut filers can have a scratch-dig applied to resolve image blotching in HD cameras. Ball lenses can be edged down to produce a drum lens which makes mounting and alignment in optical systems more straightforward. These are just a few examples of the options that can be explored with specialist guidance from an optical components expert.

Specific factors

Specific factors should also be explored when creating your optical components. Focal length, back focal length and diameter must all be considered because they will all influence the efficiency of your overall system. Again, tailored advice will always be incredibly useful.

Your Choices Made Easier with Expert Help from Knight Optical

Manufacturers of electronics and optoelectronics systems naturally rely upon the highest levels of quality and design innovation in order to secure a competitive and operational advantage.

This is why at Knight Optical, we have invested extensively in the industry’s most exceptional, state-of-the-art metrology instruments and the most highly qualified metrology technicians, allowing us to ensure that every optical component we supply to or create for our customers fully adheres to their exacting requirements, and meets our strict and audited quality standards.

Should you wish to discuss your individual optical component requirements for any electronics or optoelectronics applications, please be assured that our experienced, multilingual sales team and industry trained technical experts are at your disposal, ready to develop solutions that meet your specific challenges.

To learn more about our range of optical components for the electronics and optoelectronics sector, please visit