Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 16:12:16 -0400 (EDT)

Author: Steve Wonnell

Subject: Re: How to Learn About Optical Mounts, etc.


George, please let me know what you find out. I'm in the process
of building up our collection of optics demos/experiments for the
junior level optics class.

One of our senior faculty who's been doing optics for 40+ years, upon my
asking his opinion for which was the best mounting system, said "a lack of
standardization is the curse of optics." There seems to be no one single
best system to use for mounting and arranging stuff. However, I have
gathered some tidbits.

(1) First principle: mount and arrange the laser (or other) beam, and
move the optics pieces, not vice versa.

(2) ThorLabs, Inc. is a pretty good place to buy quality stuff at decent

(3) Edmund Industrial Optics is pretty good, but not super high quality.

(4) Higher quality vendors include Newport, OptoSigma, Melles Griot,
Oriel. The catalogs of these vendors, including Edmunds, usually contain
a large amount of technical and educational information about their

(5) I just discovered SurplusShed (, an excellent
source of surplus optics parts at super prices.

(6) The textbook by Hecht, 4th edition, is a great beginning book for
studying optics from a practical, hands-on point of view.

(7) is a good starting point
for specialized optics parts.

We have some old rigid, triangular-cross section optical rails that I'm
using for the lecture-demos. But sometimes I mount stuff freely on
stands. No one seems to use the old rail method anymore. Most everyone
I've seen in the research world buys these expensive optical tables and
clamps the mounts to the table. It's probably the way to go for an
advanced student lab. Most people around here seem to purchase mounting
hardware from Thorlabs, but use a table from Newport or another vendor.

Steve Wonnell

On Wed, 12 Jun 2002, George M. Caplan wrote:

> Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 12:20:09 -0400
> From: George M. Caplan
> Reply-To:
> To:
> Subject: How to Learn About Optical Mounts, etc.
> I am familiar with the "optical benches" used in first year labs. They
> consist essentially of a rigid meter stick and some clamp-on lens holders.
> Next semester I will be helping with a more advanced lab that uses
> "optical mounts" and an optical table that looks like (very rigid)
> pegboard.
> Where can I read about these things? My specialty is electronics.
> I have learned a lot of basic optics recently, but now I need to move on
> to more advanced optical lab techniques.

Steven K. Wonnell
Physics and Astronomy Department E-Mail:
Johns Hopkins University Phone: (410) 516-4696, 516-5468
3400 N. Charles Street Fax: (410) 516-7239
Baltimore, MD 21218-2686 Office: 478 Bloomberg