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New INL gunsight technology?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/07/2010 at 09:19
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Optics Professional
Optics Professional

Joined: October/08/2008
Location: Pennsylvania
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Points: 817

I am not an optics guy and this came to me.  is this something new and exciting or just old stuff you guys already know about?



The unaided eye can focus either on the target (left) or the gun's iron sight (center). The MicroSight lets it do both (right), giving marksmen a better shot at their quarry.


New INL gunsight technology should improve accuracy for target shooters, hunters, soldiers

By Mike Wall, INL Communications and Governmental Affairs



The MicroSight's wafer-thin optical element is only about a quarter-inch in diameter.


Go down to the rifle range and fire a few rounds at a target 100 meters out. Chances are you won't hit the bull's-eye. Even if you read the wind right and don't twitch as you're squeezing the trigger, you may well fall at the first hurdle: lining up the shot.


Aiming a weapon is harder than it looks. Shooters need clear views of a distant object (the target) and a near one (the iron sight at the end of the rifle barrel) at the same time. But the eye can't quite pull this off, as a simple experiment shows: Point at a faraway house or storefront, then try to bring both your finger and the building into focus. One or the other will be blurry.


Idaho National Laboratory's innovative gunsight technology, the MicroSight, helps the eye solve this problem. The MicroSight, a disc smaller than a dime, brings both the target and the iron sight into simultaneous focus, giving marksmen a better sight picture. The new sight has national-security applications, as it could improve safety and performance for American soldiers. Millions of target shooters and hunters should also benefit.   


"The MicroSight gives you much of the performance you'd get out of a holographic or telescopic sight," says INL engineer David Crandall, who developed the technology. "But it's more reliable, much lighter-weight and much cheaper."


The alternating rings on zone plates bring faraway and nearby objects into focus simultaneously.


The magic of zone plates

Crandall is not an optics specialist. Most of his past work tended toward infrastructure engineering, like nuclear projects with INL's Advanced Test Reactor. But Crandall is a highly accomplished target shooter — he's a member of the U.S. national long-range rifle team — and he's come up with several other shooting-related inventions. He patented a rifle-stabilizing shooting sling, for example, and a small, powerful breaching shotgun that could help law-enforcement personnel storm buildings more safely and effectively.


One day, Crandall was leafing through an optics textbook, and he stumbled across a section on "zone plates." Zone plates are optical devices that resemble lenses. But whereas lenses focus light using refraction — essentially, changing the direction of light waves by changing their speed — zone plates use diffraction. Diffraction describes how waves bend, break up, spread out and interfere with each other as they encounter obstacles. The diffraction of sound waves, for example, explains how you can hear someone's voice from around a corner.


INL engineer David Crandall, a highly accomplished target shooter, uses the MicroSight to take aim at a target 100 meters away.


Zone plates focus light via a set of concentric rings that alternate between transparent and opaque. The transparent sections let some light waves pass through unchanged, focusing objects that are far away (basically, at infinity). But light passing the edges of the opaque rings gets diffracted, which brings nearby objects into focus. The seemingly impossible result: sharp images of distant and near objects, simultaneously.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/07/2010 at 12:11
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Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice

Joined: March/10/2010
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Points: 140
There are pseudo-accommodative contact lenses and interoccular lenses that do this same thing for the eye.  But they cannot act like a lens placed on an instrument or weapon when attached to the eye.  The same technology may work on instruments and weapons, but the application would probably be for a single user only since the brain is not able to instantly process all the different focal rings at the same time.
The corrective lenses used for lens transplant are adaptive lenses.  The patient must first use pseudo-accomodative lenses to train the brain to adapt to near and far sight at the same time.  Some people are not good candidates for this technology because of their inability to adapt, and therefore must use a single focus interoccular lens, along with glasses for near/distant vision depending on the type of implanted lens.
So the same problem may be true of this system unless it is custom ground for the individual.  Even though the lens does not magnify, it will still need a focal plane that matches an individuals eye, and the brain must be able to process the near and far images present at the same time. 
Just guessing/thinking out loud.  But it sound like one hell of a great idea!
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