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Current Status Of Sapphire Dome Production

Feb. 27, 2019

Sapphire is an ideal choice for the transparent dome element in higher speed missile systems due to its high transmission, higher durability, and thermal shock resistance. Sapphire Domes for various missile systems are being produced but fabrication technology development is required for cost reduction and improved performance. Major costs of Optical Dome production are in fabrication.

It has been shown that grinding to near-finished size is important to reduce fabrication costs and improve quality of finished domes. With this approach, optical distortion problems related to the anisotropic properties and subsurface damage can be minimized. Subsurface damage has been shown to reduce sapphire's strength. The depth of subsurface damage has been quantified and it has been shown that room temperature strength can be increased with a post-polish heat treatment.

Sapphire Domes

However, the extremely high hardness and brittleness of sapphire make it difficult to obtain defect-free surfaces. The surface/subsurface damages induced by brittle fracture would reduce sapphire's strength and increase the subsequent polishing time. Therefore, the material removal mode, brittle or ductile, plays a vital role in quality control of the machined surface.

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