An acousto-optic deflector is a device that will scan an optical beam over a range of angles or accurately control the output angle of the beam. By altering the RF drive frequency to the Deflector, the deflection angle, i.e. the angle through which the diffracted beam is deviated, can be varied.
Effective AO deflector design is complex, and involves choices of acousto-optic materials and the appropriate acoustic-mode depending upon the application. Commonly, resolution is the most important parameter for a deflector. However, high resolution generally comes at the expense of other parameters such as access time and efficiency. Thus it is important to effectively trade off the various performance requirements.
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Typical applications include: Photolithography, laser tweezers, optical scanning, optical inspection and digital imaging.