Optical Table


Imaging in front of you there are 10 stainless steel sheets, and you are asked to divide these sheets into smaller stainless steel sheets. What can you do? Back in the old days we have no choice but to do it the old way, which means to see it down one by one. Fortunately, the advance of technology means a better way of dealing with the problem. These days, we can use mechanical equipment to divide these sheets in a relatively short amount of time. But there is another unique way for humans to cut things, and it can sometimes also brand things if we like. There is no denying that the invention of laser light has helped humans solve a lot of problems. It can brand or cut the product with perfect precision. We can even use them to do eye surgery these days. However, to maintain such precision, the laser requires an equipment which is as important as they are, the optical table.

Optical table

So what is the optical table exactly? An optical table is a device designed to support systems used for laser and optics related experiments. It can be viewed as a vibration control platform. The surfaces of the optic tables are very strictly designed. It has the ability to maintain with minimum deflection so that the alignment of optical elements remains stable over time. This is very important, because any misalignment can cause the whole process to fail. Most of the optical systems need the vibration of optical elements to be small. That is the reason why the optical tables are typically very heavy. Within the system’s structure, it is incorporated with a vibration isolation and damping features. Most of the optic table used the pneumatic isolators which served as the mechanical low-pass filters. The pneumatic isolators can reduce the ability of vibrations in the floor to cause vibrations in the tabletop.


In order for the optic table to work perfectly, the surface of an optical system must provide a rigid base. This base permits the optics to be mounted and aligned reliably. it can achieve long-term stability and make sure there are no inherent vibrational resonances present in the area. It is vital that any vibrations caused by motorized or moving parts during the process be eliminated. This can in turn prevent the vibrations from influencing critical optical elements. All of the conditions above must be met to ensure the smooth and successful operation. It is possible that due to the vibrational induced noise, some data may be evaluated incorrectly. In other cases, it is also possible for the valuable data to be buried in random noise.  If the data is not evaluated properly, such data can lead to frustration, and in turn hinder the progress, and consume resources. Situation like this is particularly costly when the system is a laboratory prototype of a production assembly. Several types of optical tables and optical breadboards have been invented and developed to make sure the undesirable effects do not take place. As I mentioned earlier, it is important for the optic tables to have a rigid and flat upper surface. In order to prevent the background vibration of the environment, the table will be mounted seismically. Several materials have been chosen to make the tabletops, such as the granite, concrete, wood, and steel. The tabletops also have the unusual composite structures, which is trying to improve the performance of the optic table while keeping the weight at an acceptable level. Each of these materials has their own advantages and disadvantages to be considered as the best suit for the tabletops. However, the most optimal performance was found using a composite construction technique. 

Vibration Isolation

In our environment, there is always some vibration there. These vibrations can range from 4 to 100 Hz. Within the system of the optic table, there is a device called vibration isolation frame. The vibration isolation frame is designed to isolate those vibrations created from the environment from the optical tables and breadboards. Huge differences in frequency will prevent the energy from transferring from one place into another. The optic table which with the resonant frequencies well above 100 Hz, can make sure the situation such as energy coupling does not occur between the tabletop and its support system.

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