In Idle Diffractions, optical engineering expert Dr. Kevin P. Thompson puts the spotlight on emerging optical technologies, explores industry hot topics and events, and shares his knowledge of optics history. Kevin brings more than 30 years of experience to these topics, as well as an extensive collection of rare optics textbooks, some of which he recently donated to his alma mater, the University of Arizona’s College of Optics.

Kevin is Group Director, R&D at Optical Research Associates (ORA), now a part of Synopsys. He joined ORA as an optical designer in 1986 after five years with the optical design group at what was then Perkin-Elmers’ government division.

Kevin has created a broad range of optical designs from state-of-the-art FLIRs to the latest in EUV lithography systems at 13nm. He was also the lead optical designer for the null lenses used to test the new mirrors in both the COSTAR and the WF/PC II cameras in the completely successful Hubble first servicing mission.

Kevin is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a Fellow of the SPIE. He is topical editor for the Journal of the Optical Society of America (JOSA A) in Geometrical Optics, and served both as conference cochair and proceedings coeditor for the 1998 International Optics Design Conference. He received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona, where he conducted research with Dr. Roland Shack to develop optical aberrations for optical systems without symmetry. He also holds B.S. degrees in Astrophysics and Physics from the University of Minnesota.

Kevin has authored numerous technical papers in the field of optics. If you’re interested in obtaining copies of his papers or those of other ORA engineers, go to

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