Joint OSE, UNM SPIE Student Chapter and CHTM-W Seminar by SPIE Vice President, Dr. Julie Bentley on Lessons Learned from 25 years of Optical Design Projects and an Introduction to Freeform GRIN Materials

Departmental News

Julie L. Bentley

Posted: February 10, 2024

Date: Thursday, February 29, 2024

Time:  12:45 PM - 1:45 PM Mountain Time

Location: CHTM, Room #103 and Zoom


The first part of this talk will focus on lessons learned from overseeing 25 years of optical design projects (both academic and commercial). For example, many specification conflicts are not obvious when the project is initiated, and it can take quite a while before they are realized (impacting both cost & schedule). Identifying these common problems early-on helps keep things running smoothly on the project. Guidelines for setting up successful individual (and group) student projects along with methods to scale up to large class sizes will also be discussed.

The second part of this talk will focus on freeform gradient-index (GRIN) materials: a new type of freeform optic. Gradient index (GRIN) optical systems are not new, having been studied for over 50 years. However, most of this effort was focused on optical designs using conventional GRIN materials (e.g. axial or radial gradients) with rotationally invariant index of refraction profiles. Current interest in freeform surfaces has shown that they enable irregular system geometries with high optical performance by leveraging rotational variance. Recent advancements in the fabrication of gradient-index (GRIN) materials with additive manufacturing have enabled a new type of freeform optic using a freeform gradient index (F-GRIN) material.


Julie L. Bentley is a Professor at the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, and has taught courses in geometrical optics, optical design, and product design for over 25 years. She is a Fellow of SPIE and OSA and a former president of the Rochester Optical Society. She is the currently the Vice President of SPIE and will serve as the SPIE president in 2026. She holds several U.S. patents and has published three books on optical design. Her expertise is in the area of optical design and tolerancing of precision optical instruments. At the university, her research group is focused on three different aspects of optics: optical design with freeform GRIN (gradient index) materials, the design of next generation adaptive optics (AO) ophthalmoscopes, and improved zoom lens design and optimization. Outside of teaching and research, she runs a successful optical design consulting business, Bentley Optical Design, where she designs lens systems for a wide variety of applications ranging from medical devices for cancer detection to visible and infrared military optics.