Michael Gorman was born on Maui, but moved to New Zealand and then to Florida, before finally returning to Maui for middle and high school; during his life, he has traveled to five continents and over 35 different countries. After graduating from Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2012, Michael has furthered his education at Syracuse University and is entering his junior year with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He plans to one-day work in a career dealing with the space program, whether that job is directly or indirectly related. In his free time, he enjoys working with computers, playing sports, watching movies, and building prototypes.

Home Island: Maui
High School: Kamehameha Schools Maui
Institute when accepted: Syracuse University

Developing an Instrument to Characterize Large Optical Surfaces:
The Swing-Arm Profilometer

Project Site: HNu Photonics
Mentors: Richard Pultar and Riley Aumiller

Project Abstract

Eyeglasses, mirrors, lenses, computer screens — optics are a part of everyday life.  Many applications require optical elements with high-precision surfaces: defense systems, medical analysis, and astronomical research, to name just a few.  To ensure peak performance, these optics must be machined and characterized to the most precise level possible.  One method is to measure optical surfaces through the use of a profilometer, a device used to measure the deviation from an ideal surface, reaching accuracies down to nanometer levels.  Currently, there are two types of profilometers: linear and swing-arm.  The linear design is generally used to measure small optical parts (4–6 inches), and as the name suggests, moves in a linear fashion.  The use of a swing-arm profilometer provides multiple advantages, including cost efficiency and high accuracy.  Its ability to measure the surface figure of larger optical parts stems from the fact that the tool can swing through an arc-shaped path of any length as the arm pivots.  By designing a swing arm that utilizes a near-frictionless air bearing, a high-torque, high-accuracy stepper motor, and a depth gauge accurate to 0.2 µm, optical elements as large as 1.5 meters can be measured to extreme accuracies.  With the addition of Arduino and MATLAB programming, a tool is created that can be adapted to any-sized part and measure with the same accuracy each time, as well as vary resolution of the data and number of data points recorded.  This improvement in accuracy of measurement allows regions of the optical part to be addressed where it has deviated most from ideal.  These points can then be polished or machined in order to create a more ideal surface.