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The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the Center author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Center Overview

The mission of the Center for Freeform Optics (CeFO) is to advance research and education in the science, engineering, and application of systems based on freeform optics through a dedicated, continuing partnership between industry and academia, leading to economic and performance advantages. CeFO's vision is that compact, affordable, and high-performance optical systems based on freeform optics will be a part of future technologies.

CeFO's international consortium brings together experts in optical theory, design, manufacture, assembly, and testing and measurement. The synergy created by combining these areas of expertise accelerates the development and commercialization of state-of-the-art optical systems. The benefits of freeform optics - new functions, higher performance, reductions in volume and weight - affect a broad range of applications, from consumer technology to high-precision optics for space exploration.

CeFO was created to launch the permanent introduction of freeform surfaces into the manufacturing infrastructure for optical systems worldwide. CeFO is focuses on advances in promising fabrication possibilities, from diamond machining to emerging technologies such as laser polishing and 3D printing. Advances in grinding and computer-controlled polishing, ion beam finishing, and magnetorheological finishing with appropriate control of midspatial frequencies and surface roughness are expected to enable future generations of ultraprecise extreme ultraviolet optics. Freeform optics has the potential to impact a broad wavelength range, from infrared surveillance to extreme ultraviolet lithography.

CeFO provides the synergistic, collaborative working space to bring freeform optical surfaces into the mainstream of optical systems and to broadly educate a powerful, diversified workforce of engineers and scientists.


  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • University of Rochester
View Center Website

Center Personnel

Jannick P. Rolland
Director of CeFO, Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering
+1 585 276 4562

Matthew Davies
Center Staff
+1 704 687 1888

Research Focus

CeFO's research focuses on freeform optics as an enabling technology in many markets and applications. There are four main research areas:

  • Advanced materials for fabrication and manufacturing of freeform optics. Emerging technologies, such as fast-tool servo diamond turning, ultraprecision grinding, and high-precision molding require many refinements to achieve the best possible optical quality and speed of material removal at low cost. These technologies must also solve long-standing problems with manufacturing-induced defects and surface artifacts. Emerging technologies such as laser polishing and 3D printing are poised to transform freeform optics manufacturing, including mass production.
  • Fundamentals of freeform optics. This area encompasses mathematical descriptions of freeform surfaces, aberration theory of systems that depart from rotational symmetry and leverage freeform surfaces, light propagation through freeform optical systems, optical design methods, and tools to bridge design to manufacture.
  • Optical testing for freeform optics. Optical fabrication is limited by optical metrology. Freeform optics presents a grand challenge in optical testing to achieve both nanometer accuracy and speed for cost-effective manufacturing.
  • Software integration. Software plays a key role in the manufacturing chain. CeFO is developing a software platform, FabTool, in a closed feedback loop with CeFO members to seamlessly and efficiently bridge from design to manufacture.


Member Organizations

IUCRC affiliated member organizations are displayed as submitted by the Center. Non-federal organizations are not selected, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the National Science Foundation.
  • Nikon Research Corporation of America
  • Optimax
  • OptiPro Systems, LLC
  • Opto Alignment
  • Samsung
  • Synopsys
  • Thales
  • Vision Products