About Breadboards

- Oct 24, 2017-

An alternative to an optical table is an optical breadboard. Some optical systems use breadboards made of solid aluminum for later integration with a larger system with some form of vibration control. Most optical breadboards are constructed from steel, aluminum, or carbon fiber sheets with honeycomb structure and can be placed on an ordinary table or workbench. Breadboards are not as good as optical tables, but weigh less and are adequate for smaller optical systems that do not require extremely high levels of mechanical stability. The low weight enables one to support these tables on soft air springs which reduce vibrations coming from the floor, although this increases vibrations due to acoustic noise.

The honeycomb structure reduces bending due to the breadboard's own weight, so it can be tilted and forces applied via the soft spring supports accelerate the table as a whole without misalignment. Breadboards can therefore be used in mobile applications, such as on airplanes. Also, one can bolt a breadboard onto an optical table, build up a module of the experiment on it, and then transfer the module as a whole onto another table without the need to realign the components on the breadboard. Similarly, custom-built optical devices are assembled and aligned on breadboards, which are then enclosed in a case and shipped to the customer.