Optical Tables

Overview

Newport offers a wide variety of Optical Tables including our broadband damped RPR Series Optical Tables, precision tuned damped RS Series Optical Tables, and actively damped SmartTable Optical Tables with IQ Damping Technology. Our optical table solutions are designed to fit any performance, budget and delivery need. From very demanding applications like confocal microscopy, spectroscopy or interferometry, to applications under a small budget, Newport has the right optical table for them all.


Optical Table wCallouts

Optical Tables Overview

What's behind Newport optical tables is our knowledge and experience of designing, manufacturing and testing optical table and system for over 40 years. Our optical tables have helped in many scientific and industrial success stories across various subjects from fundamental physics to semiconductor manufacturing. When you choose a Newport optical table, you have chosen not only the proven superior performance and quality, but also our wealth of knowledge, experience and committed product support along your way. Check out our optical table galleries on Flickr for application specific photos.

Optical Table Damping – Broadband damping, Tuned Mass Damping or Active/Hybrid Damping?

The most critical vibration characteristic of optical table is its resonances. This is because the table is designed to be as stiff as possible and acts as a rigid body when its resonances are not excited. When the table is a rigid body there is no dynamic deflection and the beam alignment on top of the table would not be disturbed. A typical optical table has one or sometimes two major resonances and several minor ones. Damping is needed for optical tables to reduce the resonance amplitudes and minimized the system deflection when the resonances are excited by ambient vibrations.

Broadband Damping

Broadband damping means absorbing and dissipating vibration energies across a broad range of frequencies. It is widely used in anti-vibration tables to reduce the structural vibrations of the tabletop. Typically the broadband damping involves energy absorption materials such as foam, rubber or elastomers. It may also involve mass blocks/plates and rubbers installed along the side of the table to absorb moderate amount of vibrations for a broad frequency range that covers the resonances of a standard size optical table. Broadband damping does not target any specific table resonance or any specific set of frequencies; instead it absorbs and dissipates vibration energies uniformly across the frequency range. It is usually affordable and good for applications that do not require high damping performances.

Broadband Damped Optical Tables and Systems

  Optical Table Series Technical Description
RPR Series RPR Series Industrial and Educational Optical Tables Fully sealed holes, 8 - 24 in. thick, up to 5 ft wide by 20 ft long

Applications
  • Manufacturing fiber optics assembly
  • Teaching labs
  • Non-interferometric applications, etc.
Integrity 2 VCS Integrity 2 VCS 4.8 mm Skin Table Systems Optical table system with frame - same damping performance with RPR Series Industrial and Educational Optical Tables

Applications
  • Basic spectroscopy
  • Multi-mode fiber
  • Micro-positioning, etc.
Integrity 1 VCS Integrity 1 VCS 3.4 mm Skin Table Systems Optical table system with frame – most affordable optical table system with broadband damping

Applications
  • Manufacturing fiber optics assembly
  • Teaching labs
  • Non-interferometric applications

Tuned Mass Damping (TMD)

A tuned mass damper is a device consists of a mass, a spring, and a damper that is attached to a structure in order to reduce the dynamic response of the structure. It is tuned to a particular structural frequency so that when the table resonance is excited, the damper will resonate out of phase with the structural motion of the structure. Vibration energy is then dissipated by the damper inertia force acting on the structure. TMD is the most effective method among all known passive damping methods, as it concentrates damping efforts where it's needed at the frequencies of dominant resonance modes. It is widely used in various industries for its efficiency and effectiveness of damping, such as the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk, Taipei 101 Building, and NASA's Ares I rocket. Different from broadband damping which absorbs a moderate amount of vibration energy equally over the broad band, TMD targets resonances and as a result is much more effective.

Newport’s patented precision tuned dampers (US patent 8857585) are TMDs that are specially designed with precise tuning capabilities and immunity to load changes up to several hundred pounds. With each damper targeting one major resonance mode of the table, Newport uses up to 6 dampers (RS4000) to effectively reduce the resonance amplitudes within a broad range of frequencies. Because those dampers could be tuned to very low frequencies, doubler tables that have low resonance frequencies are damped – in which scenario broadband damping couldn't achieve good result.

Tunable Damper

Precision Tuned Damped Optical Tables & Systems

  Optical Table Series Technical Description
RS4000 RS4000 Precision Tuned Damped Top Performance Optical Tables

Highest level of tuned damping with 6 precision tuned dampers.

Applications:
High resolution experiments that require highest level of damping
RS2000 RS2000 Precision Tuned Damped Research Optical Tables

Meets competitor’s top performance models, featuring 2 precision tuned dampers.

Applications:
Microscopy, spectroscopy and other demanding applications
Upgradable SmartTable Upgradable SmartTable® Table Systems with Passive Precision Tuned Dampers

Optical table system with frame - Meets competitor’s top performance models, featuring 2 precision tuned dampers. Casters included and tabletop could be bolted to frame using provided safety clips. Field upgradable to SmartTable active damping using IQ upgrade kits.

Applications:
Microscopy, spectroscopy and other demanding applications
Integrity 4 VCS Integrity 4 VCS Table Systems with 2 Precision Tuned Dampers

Optical table system with frame - Meets competitor’s top performance models, featuring 2 precision tuned dampers.

Applications:
Microscopy, spectroscopy and other demanding applications
Integrity 3 VCS Integrity 3 VCS Table Systems with 1 Precision Tuned Damper

Optical table system with frame - featuring 1 precision tuned damper.

Applications:
Microscopy, spectroscopy and other demanding applications

Active and Hybrid Damping

Different from broadband or tuned mass damping which are passive damping methods, Newport’s SmartTable line of products feature active damping with patented IQ technology (US patent 7320455, 8196891, 8807515, 9086112, 8276873, 8231098, 8651447 and 8857585). Instead of absorbing vibrations passively, the active damping system senses vibration in real time and immediately sends out signals to actuators to counteract and cancel the vibrations. It effectively addresses the resonances of optical tables by incorporating two pairs of sensor and actuator in the optical table design and uses an external controller to coordinate the signal processing, enabling the fast and accurate damping response for optical tables. Active damping system is the most advanced damping technique for optical tables. It has a much shorter settling time than passive system and reduces all table resonances within the entire active bandwidth.

Hybrid damping combines the advantages of both active damping and tuned mass damping and provides the best performance optical tables ever in the market. Active system is able to further reduce vibrations on top of a good foundation created by precision tuned dampers, delivering optical tables and systems with the minimum resonance peaks.

Active and Hybrid Damped Optical Tables and Systems

  Optical Table Series Technical Description
Top Performance Hybrid Damped SmartTables Top Performance Hybrid Damped SmartTables®

IQ Active damping plus precision tuned damping, top performance table

Applications

  • Super resolution microscopy
  • Ultra precision nanostructure studies and fabrication
  • Applications that involves constant load changes
  • Super long exposure holography, spectroscopy and microscopy
  • Any application that requires the best vibration control platform
Actively Damped SmartTables Actively Damped SmartTables®

IQ Active damping


Applications
  • Live cell imaging
  • Precision nanostructure studies and fabrication
  • High resolution spectroscopy
  • Applications that involves constant load changes
  • Long exposure holography, spectroscopy and microscopy
  • Ultrafast studies
  • Any application that requires long term stability and sub micron precision
Top Performance SmartTable Systems Top Performance SmartTable® Table Systems with Hybrid Damping

Optical table system with IQ Active damping plus precision tuned damping, top performance table system


Applications
  • Super resolution microscopy
  • Ultra precision nanostructure studies and fabrication
  • Applications that involves constant load changes
  • Super long exposure holography, spectroscopy and microscopy
  • Any application that requires the best vibration control platform
Actively Damped SmartTable Actively Damped SmartTable® Table Systems

Optical table system with IQ Active damping


Applications
  • Live cell imaging
  • Precision nanostructure studies and fabrication
  • High resolution spectroscopy
  • Applications that involves constant load changes
  • Long exposure holography, spectroscopy and microscopy
  • Ultrafast studies
  • Any application that requires long term stability and sub micron precision

Optical Table Thickness – Does it matter?

The short answer is, yes it does matter. Thickness is considered as structural mass of a structure, and thus contributes to the overall stiffness of the optical table. Thicker optical table provides better stiffness and smaller static deflection under the load. Dynamic deflection would also be reduced, as thicker optical tables require taller honeycomb structures inside without increasing the overall mass significantly. Therefore the stiffness to mass ratio is improved so the rigid body frequency zone of the table is expanded. The most popular thickness choices are 8" (203 mm) and 12" (305 mm). For increased stiffness and minimized deflection, choose 18" (457 mm) and above. For cost effective and less demanding applications choose 6" (152 mm).

Table Image Upper
Traditionally, optical tables are used with table supports, such as S-2000 (link), SL and RL. Those free standing legs provide maximum storage capacity and much higher load capacity. They are not as mobile and flexible compared to a frame system, but they don’t have those possible resonances introduced by frame structures.
Integrity
Table systems were born due to the increasing demand of easier set up, mobility and accessories capabilities. They usually feature a robust frame system with either rigid support or integrated isolators and could be combined with various accessories such as casters, overhead shelves, hip guards, side shelves, laser safety curtains, etc.

Newport Optical Table Systems

SmartTable OTS

SmartTable OTS was designed specifically for advanced applications in live cell imaging, semiconductor metrology, and precision optical alignment and testing. The integrated accessories and ergonomic designs available with the SmartTable OTS deliver exceptional performance, flexibility and upgradability. The SmartTable OTS is the only optical table system that is field upgradable with three levels of table damping performance and two levels of isolation performance, which could satisfy current requirements but also allow the flexibility needed for future performance improvement.

Integrity VCS

Integrity VCS was designed specifically to support basic optical research and development applications, at universities, corporate labs and manufacturing floors. The Integrity VCS delivers comparable damping and isolation performance to other optical platforms at a more affordable price – while also offering accessories to improve platform requirements.

Optical Table Selection Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the typical thermal bending of optical tables and what type of table should I choose if thermal stability is needed for my application?

A: Under localized heat sources (laser, lamp, etc.), all standard optical tables in the market are very likely to bend a little bit (µrads) because the thermal gradient exists between top and bottom skin, which are thermally isolated by air – no matter whether it is an “all-steel symmetrical isotropic” design. If minimum thermal expansion is absolutely needed, the best way is to isolate your thermal source from tables, or choose Super Invar™ as your table material.

Q: What is the difference between vibration damping and isolation? Why do I need isolators when I already have an optical table top?

A: Vibrations transmitted from the floor to the tabletop is handled by isolators. Those floating legs provide isolation to your experiment and eliminate surrounding floor vibrations like building sway, street traffic or even people walking nearby. Damping, on the other hand, targets tabletop and minimizes its resonances caused by the rest of your experiments or environment. This part is handled mainly by tabletop. Combined together, they kill vibrations and make your optical table the cornerstone of your experiment.

Q: Is optical table the heavier the better? Why not use granite as optical table top?

A: Surprisingly, we don’t want our tables to be too heavy. What matters is the stiffness to mass ratio, and we want this ratio to be as large as possible so that the table has a higher stiffness and expanded rigid body zone. Granite is very flat but it is also very heavy. The mass in granite does not contribute to its structural stiffness; therefore granite is not the ideal candidate for optical table top. Instead, honeycomb structure provides less mass and better stiffness and delivers the best vibration control performance.

Q: Why use composite wood for side panels? Isn’t wood more vulnerable compared to steel in terms of environmental instability?

A: Side panels and edge finish for optical tables do more than just covers. They should contribute to the overall damping performance of the table. The advantage of steel is that it is stiff and provides good environmental stability. The drawbacks are: Like many other hard metals with high elasticity and high density, steel tends to allow vibration or ringing and would resonate with very little natural damping. The wood, on the other hand, is very good at natural damping and eliminate vibrations. This is why ringing bells are always made out of steel/metal and high end hi-fi speakers that require acoustic damping are almost all enclosed by composite wood. But wood is not without any drawbacks – it tends to be more vulnerable than steel under difficult environmental factors. Considering the pros and cons from each side and the fact that optical tables are generally used in house and under controlled environment, Newport decides to use composite wood with moisture protective paint layers which provides superior damping and prevent the side panels from introducing vibrations to the tabletop.

Q: What is the proper way to compare the performances of different optical tables?

A: Optical tables are not complex structures. Modes of rectangular plate-like structures like optical tables had been discussed and depicted in numerous handbooks and textbooks. The most direct way is to compare the compliance curves. Compliance test is the vibration control industry standard to test the vibration damping characteristics of a structure; it is well documented and has been used for decades. The test is done on all corners of the table as those tend to have the highest level of vibration.

Other tests such as non-contact laser scanning vibrometry (LSV) is also sometimes performed. However, LSV test could lead to erroneous conclusions if the test is not staged properly. It requires the laser head to be calibrated and mounted on a tall structure in order to capture the entire table surface. Moreover, it requires a calibrated reference signal for excitation in order to get meaningful data. It is used widely for testing complicated miniature structures, instead of a well-defined large structure such as optical table.