Optical Lenses are often categorized by their shape. Two common surface shapes are spherical and aspherical. Each offers unique characteristics that make it suitable for different use cases.

Applied to optical substrates like glass, thin-film optical coatings alter the material’s optical properties. The goal of every optical thin-film coating is to change the transmittance  and reflectance properties of the base material to which it is applied. Thin-film coatings consist of a certain number of very thin layers of coating material. The selected amount of layers and type of coating influence surface reflectivity over specific wavelengths and angles of incidence.

The most basic type of thin-film coating is made of a single layer, but more complicated applications demand more layers. Here you’ll learn more about the industries and applications of various types of thin-film optical coatings.


Thin-film coatings can be applied to most optical surfaces. Generally, the more complex the application, the more layers that are required. Complex, multi-layer coatings enable operation over a variety of different wavelengths and incident angles. Simpler designs are more limited in terms of application, but they are cost-effective and sufficient for basic uses. 

Examples of common thin-film optical coatings are:

  • Anti-reflective (AR) coatings
  • Bandpass color filters
  • Beamsplitters
  • Dichroic filters
  • Infrared (IR) filters
  • Metal coatings
  • Surface mirrors
  • Ultraviolet (UV) filters


Almost every optical component requires some kind of thin-film coating before use in its intended application. Usually, the coating is anti-reflective (AR) or reflective. Common industries that rely on thin-film coated optical products include:

  • Aerospace
  • Aerial mapping
  • Defense
  • Entertainment (projectors, cameras)
  • Imaging
  • Life science research
  • Medical (microscopes, vision glasses, laser-assisted surgery)
  • Photography

Why JML Optical

For over 50 years, JML Optical has been providing high-performance optical solutions to critical industries throughout the United States. As a leading precision engineered custom optical solution supplier, we aim to improve the performance of our customers’ optical devices with cutting-edge thin-film optical coatings and other solutions.

Thin-film optical coatings are just one of the many solutions we deliver. JML Optical also provides rapid prototyping, optical and optomechanical design, metal and glass fabrication, metrology, environmental testing, and complete assembly services. Contact us to discuss your specific needs.