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Achromatic Lenses Guides of Knowledge, Cost and Manufactures

Overview of Achromatic Lenses

What is an Achromatic Lens?

what is achromatic lens

An achromatic lens is a type of optical lens designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration. Chromatic aberration occurs when different wavelengths of light are refracted by different amounts, causing a failure to focus all colors to the same convergence point. This results in a blurred image with color fringes around the edges. Achromatic lenses are engineered to bring two wavelengths, typically red and blue, into focus in the same plane, thereby significantly reducing chromatic aberration.


Achromatic lenses are usually made by combining two types of glass with different dispersion properties:

  1. Crown Glass: A type of glass with low dispersion.
  2. Flint Glass: A type of glass with high dispersion.

These two or more elements are cemented together to form a doublet lens. The combination of these materials helps to counteract the dispersion of light, effectively minimizing chromatic aberration.


  • Improved Image Quality: By reducing chromatic aberration, achromatic lenses provide clearer and sharper images.
  • Cost-Effective: Compared to more complex lens systems, achromatic lenses offer a good balance between performance and cost.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of optical applications.

How achromatic lens works?

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration occurs because different wavelengths (colors) of light refract, or bend, by different amounts when passing through a lens. This causes each color to focus at different points along the optical axis, resulting in a blurred image with color fringes.

Working Principle

The key to an achromatic lens’s functionality lies in the combination of these two elements. Here’s how it works:

  1. Refraction by Crown Glass: When light enters the crown glass lens, it refracts and starts to focus. However, due to its low dispersion, different wavelengths of light (e.g., red and blue) will still focus at slightly different points.
  2. Correction by Flint Glass: The light then passes through the flint glass lens. Because flint glass has a higher dispersion, it bends the light more. The negative curvature of the flint glass lens counteracts the positive curvature of the crown glass lens.
  3. Converging to a Common Focus: The combination of these two lenses ensures that two wavelengths of light (typically red and blue) converge at the same focal point. This significantly reduces chromatic aberration, resulting in a clearer image.

Diagram Explanation

how achromatic lens works

To visualize this, imagine a beam of white light (which contains all colors) entering the achromatic lens:

  • The crown glass lens bends the light, causing different colors to start focusing at different points.
  • The flint glass lens then bends the light in the opposite direction, bringing the different colors back together to a common focal point.

Types of Achromatic Lenses

Positive Achromatic Lenses

Positive Achromatic Lenses Positive Achromatic Lenses are precision-engineered optical lenses designed to correct chromatic aberration caused by different wavelengths of light. They are typically created by carefully bonding two types of glass materials with varying refractive indices and dispersion rates, aiming to focus light of different wavelengths on the same plane, therefore, reducing or eliminating chromatic aberration.

Structure and Principle

A Positive Achromatic Lens is usually a doublet, made up of a positive low-refractive index element (such as crown glass) and a negative high-refractive index element (such as flint glass). This combination allows the chromatic aberration of one lens to be neutralized by the other, achieving the correction of chromatic aberration.


These lenses are widely used in fluorescence microscopy, image relaying, detection, and spectroscopy, among others. They provide almost constant focal lengths across a broad wavelength range, and compared to single lenses, they produce smaller light spots and clearer imaging.


  • Chromatic Aberration Correction: Effectively focuses two principal wavelengths of light, significantly reducing chromatic aberration.
  • Improved Image Quality: Delivers clearer imaging and finer light spots compared to single lenses.
  • Diverse Coating Options: Offers a selection of coatings such as VIS, NIR, SWIR to suit various application needs.

Manufacturing and Materials

Creation of Positive Achromatic Lenses involves the precise bonding of two selected materials, commonly N-BK7 and SF5 glass. The lens design parameters including radius of curvature, center thickness, and others are meticulously calculated to ensure optimal optical performance.

Typical Specifications (Example)

  • Diameter: 50.80mm
  • Effective Focal Length (EFL): 150.00mm
  • Coating: Anti-Reflective Coating AR@400-700nm
  • Materials: N-BK7/SF5
  • Back Focal Length (BFL): 140.40mm
    Radius of Curvature (R1/R2/R3): 83.20mm, -72.10mm, -247.70mm respectively
  • Center Thickness (CT): 15.00mm
  • Surface Quality: Ranges from 40-20 to 60-40 depending on specifications


With precision imaging capabilities and chromatic aberration correction, Positive Achromatic Lenses are indispensable components in advanced optical systems, particularly in applications where image quality is of paramount importance.

Negative Achromatic Lenses

Negative Achromatic Lenses Negative Achromatic Lenses are specially designed optical lenses for correcting chromatic aberrations, typically made by bonding two different types of glass materials—a low refractive index crown glass and a high refractive index flint glass. Unlike their counterpart, the Positive Achromatic Lenses, negative achromatic lenses primarily function to disperse, not focus, light rays.

Structure and Working Principle

The negative achromatic lens consists of a positive-dispersion crown glass lens paired with a negative-dispersion flint glass lens. The design aims to counteract the chromatic aberration produced by one lens with that produced by another, thus effectively correcting chromatic aberration. These lenses play a crucial role in various optical systems requiring light to diverge.

Application Fields

Negative achromatic lenses have a wide range of applications in optics, such as laser beam expanders, optical relay systems, and more. They offer a stable diverging angle across a wide wavelength and can produce a smaller and clearer spot and image compared to single lenses.


  1. Effective Chromatic Aberration Correction: The lens can disperse light rays of different wavelengths onto the same plane, significantly reducing chromatic aberration issues.
  2. Superior Imaging Quality: Compared to single lenses, negative achromatic lenses provide clearer imaging quality and produce smaller light spots.
  3. Diverse Configurations: Depending on different usage requirements, lenses can be configured with various coating options suitable for visible light, near-infrared (NIR), short-wave infrared (SWIR), and other wavelengths.

Manufacturing Materials

In production, negative achromatic lenses usually employ materials like N-BK7 and SF5. Lens manufacturing involves meticulous design of many parameters, such as the radius of curvature, center thickness, and edge thickness, to ensure optimal optical performance.

Typical Specifications

  • Diameter: 50.80 mm
  • Effective Focal Length: -150.00 mm
  • Coating: Enhanced reflectivity coating for the 400-700 nm band
  • Materials: Typically N-BK7 and SF5 glass
  • Back Focal Length: -140.40 mm
  • Radius of Curvature: R1 -83.20 mm, R2 72.10 mm, R3 247.70 mm
  • Center Thickness: 15.00 mm
  • Surface Quality: Varies from 40-20 to 60-40

Overall, negative achromatic lenses play a vital role in optical systems that require high precision diversion of light and correction of chromatic aberrations.

Achromatic Triplet Lenses

triplet achromat

Achromatic Triplet Lenses represent an advanced optical technology specifically designed for the effective correction of chromatic aberrations and other types of optical anomalies. These lenses are composed of three distinct lens elements, typically two elements made of high refractive index materials encasing one made of a lower refractive index material. This arrangement not only significantly reduces aberrations, including distortion and spherical aberrations, but also provides clear, high-quality imaging results.

Structure and Working Principle

Achromatic Triplet Lenses usually feature a symmetrical three-element design, consisting of two high refractive index glasses (such as crown glass) and one low refractive index glass (like flint glass) bonded together through a precise adhesion process. This structural layout enables the lens to efficiently correct chromatic aberration and further reduce aberrations, such as pincushion distortion and spherical aberration, through its symmetry.

Application Areas

With their excellent imaging properties, Achromatic Triplet Lenses are extensively used in fields that demand high-quality imaging. These include fluorescence microscopy, spectroscopy, surface inspection, and life sciences imaging, among others. The lenses are capable of providing excellent color correction and high-resolution image quality across a wide wavelength range.


  1. Chromatic Aberration Correction: The Achromatic Triplet Lenses can precisely adjust light of different wavelengths to the same focal plane, significantly reducing the occurrence of chromatic aberrations.
  2. Reduced Aberrations: Thanks to the ingenious symmetrical design and precise manufacturing processes, distortions such as pincushion distortion and spherical aberration are effectively controlled and minimized.
  3. High-Resolution Imaging: These lenses offer high-definition and high-quality imaging solutions for a variety of precision optical applications.

Manufacturing Materials and Processes

The production of Achromatic Triplet Lenses involves the precise bonding of lenses made from different types of materials. Typical lens materials include traditional optical glass, ultraviolet-grade fused silica (JGS1), infrared-grade fused silica (JGS3), and calcium fluoride (CaF2), among others. Key lens parameters, such as the radius of curvature, central and edge thickness, are meticulously designed to ensure optimal optical performance.

Typical Specifications

  • Manufacturing Materials: Various, including optical glass, ultraviolet-grade fused silica, infrared-grade fused silica, and calcium fluoride.
  • Dimensional Tolerances: Typically, ±0.03mm for standard factory specifications, with precision manufacturing achieving up to ±0.01mm.
  • Center Thickness Tolerance: ±0.03mm as the standard factory specification, with manufacturing limits reaching ±0.02mm.
  • Radius of Curvature Tolerance: ±0.3% as the standard factory specification, with manufacturing limits reaching ±0.2%.
  • Surface Quality: Achieving a 20-10 level under factory standards, improving to a 10-5 level for higher demands.
  • Irregularity: The common standard is 1/5 Lambda, with the limit for higher demands being less than 1/10 Lambda.
  • Centration Deviation: Under normal factory conditions, centration can be controlled within 3 arcminutes (Arcmin), with manufacturing limits tightening to 1 Arcmin.

Achromatic Triplet Lenses play a crucial role in modern optical systems, especially in applications requiring high-precision imaging and chromatic aberration correction. Their high-quality design and manufacturing make them the preferred choice for many advanced optical applications.

Aspheric Achromatic Lenses

Aspheric Achromatic Lenses merge the advantages of both aspheric and achromatic lenses, creating a sophisticated optical component. This unique combination allows them to deliver exceptional image quality and precise chromatic aberration correction.

Structure and Working Principle

These lenses are typically composed by bonding together two lenses: one achromatic lens and one aspheric lens. The design of the aspheric lens is aimed at mitigating the wavefront errors produced by traditional spherical lenses, thereby achieving more accurate image quality, reducing the RMS spot size, and approaching the diffraction limit.

Manufacturing and Material Selection

Commonly, these lenses are made from photosensitive polymers and glass optical components, with the polymer applied to one surface of the bonded lens pair. This method not only enables the lenses to be manufactured quickly within a short timeframe but also offers flexibility similar to traditional multi-element assemblies. However, the working temperature range of Aspheric Achromatic Lenses is quite narrow, restricted from -20°C to +80°C, and they are not suitable for Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) spectral transmission.

Key Advantages

  1. Chromatic Aberration Correction: They effectively correct chromatic aberration, precisely focusing light of different wavelengths onto the same plane.
  2. Reduction of Aberrations: Their aspheric design significantly reduces spherical aberration and wavefront errors, enhancing image quality.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to conventional multi-element optical systems, these lenses provide greater value for money.

Application Areas

Aspheric Achromatic Lenses are widely used in various high-precision optical systems, such as:

  • Fiber focusing or collimation
  • Imaging relay systems
  • Detection and scanning systems
  • High numerical aperture imaging systems
  • Laser beam expanders

Technical Specifications

  • Materials: Photosensitive polymers and glass optical lenses
  • Operating Temperature Range: From -20°C to +80°C
  • Main Applications: Including fiber focusing, imaging relays, detection scanning, and high numerical aperture imaging, among others

With their ingenious design and efficient manufacturing process, Aspheric Achromatic Lenses demonstrate outstanding optical performance and a broad spectrum of applications, making them an indispensable key component in modern precision optics and vision systems.

Comparison of Different Achromatic lenses

The following table compares the characteristics of different types of achromatic lenses:

FeatureAchromatic DoubletAchromatic TripletPositive AchromaticNegative Achromatic
Construction2 elements 3 elementsPositive & NegativePositive & Negative
Color CorrectionGood (limited spectrum)Excellent (wider spectrum)Good (limited spectrum)N/A (diverging)
Spherical AberrationNot addressedNot addressedNot addressedNot addressed
Image QualityGoodExcellentGoodN/A (diverging)
ApplicationsMicroscopes, Telescopes, CamerasHigh-precision imaging (astronomy)Cameras, TelescopesLaser Ranging, Spectroscopy
FeatureCylindrical AchromaticAchromatic PairsAspherized AchromatsHybrid Aspheres
ConstructionCylindrical shapeMatched DoubletsAspheric surfacesAspheric elements + other lens types
Color CorrectionOne plane (horizontal/vertical)Improved over single DoubletExcellentExceptional
Spherical AberrationNot addressedNot addressedCorrectedCorrected
Image QualityModerateVery goodExcellentSuperior
ApplicationsCylindrical beam shaping, Astigmatism correctionImproved image qualityHigh-end imagingHigh-end imaging
CostModerateHighVery HighHighest

Cemented vs. Air-spaced Achromats

Achromatic lenses effectively reduce or eliminate chromatic aberration by combining glass materials with different refractive indices and dispersion properties. These lenses are mainly divided into two types: cemented and air-spaced. Below is a further comparison of these two types of lenses:

Cemented Achromatic Lenses

cemented achromatic


  • Reduced Reflection Losses: By eliminating reflection losses at two air-glass interfaces, cemented lenses have higher light transmission efficiency.
  • Compact Structure: Cemented lenses are usually smaller and lighter, making them suitable for optical systems requiring compact designs.
  • Durability: Since the lens elements are cemented together, cemented lenses are less prone to scratches and physical damage.
  • Simplified Optical Path Design: The propagation of light within the lens can ignore the number of cemented layers, simplifying the optical path design.


  • Thermal Expansion Issues: Differences in the thermal expansion coefficients of different glass materials can cause the cemented layer to crack or separate with temperature changes, especially in large-diameter lenses.
  • Higher Manufacturing Costs: Cemented lenses require high-precision manufacturing processes to ensure proper alignment of the lens elements, increasing their manufacturing costs.
  • Residual Chromatic Aberration: Although cemented lenses effectively reduce chromatic aberration, residual chromatic aberration may still appear at the edges of images in some cases.

Air-Spaced Achromatic Lenses

air spaced achromatic


  • Better Aberration Correction: The air-spaced design provides more design freedom, helping to more effectively correct aberrations such as spherical and coma aberrations.
  • Higher Laser Damage Resistance: Without the use of adhesives, air-spaced lenses have better damage resistance for high-power laser applications.
  • Better Thermal Stability: Air-spaced lenses are less affected by material thermal expansion with temperature changes, making them suitable for large-diameter lenses.


  • Increased Reflection Losses: The air-glass interfaces in air-spaced lenses increase reflection losses, potentially requiring additional anti-reflective coatings.
  • More Complex Structure: The design and manufacturing are more complex, requiring precise spacing and alignment of the lens elements.
  • Increased Size and Weight: To maintain the air spacing between lens elements, air-spaced lenses are often larger and heavier than cemented lenses.

Cemented achromatic lenses and air-spaced achromatic lenses each have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Cemented lenses are suitable for applications requiring compact design and high light transmission efficiency, while air-spaced lenses show their advantages in high-power laser use or scenarios requiring more precise aberration correction. Considering specific application needs and cost-performance ratio can help determine which type of lens to choose.

FeatureCemented AchromatAir-Spaced Achromat
ConstructionTwo or three elements cemented togetherTwo or three elements separated by an air gap
Advantages* Compact and lightweight * Lower cost * Easier to manufacture* Superior image quality (reduced internal reflections) * More design freedom for aberration correction * Less prone to fogging
Disadvantages* Higher internal reflections (can cause ghosting) * Limited design freedom for aberration correction * More susceptible to damage from temperature changes (due to different expansion rates of glasses)* Larger and heavier * Higher cost * More complex to manufacture
Applications* Cost-effective solution for basic color correction * Cameras (especially compact models) * Telescopes (entry-level) * Microscopes (student-grade)* High-performance imaging systems * Astronomical telescopes * High-end microscopes * Laser applications

Performance Indicators

When selecting achromatic lenses, it is crucial to focus on the following performance indicators to ensure the lens meets the specific application requirements:

  • Chromatic Aberration Correction Capability: The primary task of an achromatic lens is to correct chromatic aberration, ensuring that light of different wavelengths can focus at the same point. This capability is a key indicator of lens performance.
  • Transmittance: The transmittance of a lens directly affects the energy loss of light passing through it. High transmittance indicates that the lens can transmit light more efficiently, reducing losses.
  • Wavefront Distortion: Wavefront distortion describes the degree of deformation of the wavefront after light passes through the lens. Lenses with lower wavefront distortion can better maintain the original wavefront of the light, thereby enhancing image quality.
  • Materials and Coatings: The materials and surface coatings used in the lens significantly impact its performance. Lenses made from high-quality materials and appropriate coatings typically have higher durability, anti-reflective properties, and environmental adaptability.
  • Focal Length and Numerical Aperture (NA): The focal length relates to the magnification and working distance of the lens, while the numerical aperture is associated with the lens’s resolution and light-gathering ability.
  • Size and Shape: The size and shape of the lens must be selected based on the specific application requirements to ensure compatibility with the optical system in use.
Performance IndicatorDescriptionImportance
Focal LengthDistance from lens center to where parallel light convergesDetermines magnification and working distance
Effective ApertureDiameter of clear opening for light passageAffects light gathering and depth of field
Color CorrectionAbility to minimize chromatic aberration (focusing different wavelengths at different distances)Crucial for minimizing color fringing
Image ResolutionLevel of detail captured in the formed imageImpacts sharpness, contrast, and overall image quality
TransmissionPercentage of light passing through the lensHigher transmission leads to brighter images and better low-light performance
DistortionHow straight lines are stretched or bent in the imageCritical for applications like architectural photography and photogrammetry
Surface QualityQuality of the lens surface finishScratches, pits, or uneven coatings degrade image quality
Material PropertiesProperties of the glass used (refractive index, dispersion, etc.)Influences color correction, transmission, and durability
Size and WeightPhysical dimensions and weight of the lensImportant for portability and space limitations
CostPrice of the achromatic lensBalancing performance needs with budget is crucial

Applications of Achromatic Lenses

Achromatic lenses play a crucial role in numerous fields due to their excellent chromatic aberration correction capabilities, significantly enhancing the imaging quality and overall performance of optical systems. The main application areas include:

  • Optical Imaging Systems: In devices such as microscopes, telescopes, and cameras, achromatic lenses effectively reduce chromatic and spherical aberrations, providing clearer images.
  • Photography and Videography: By correcting chromatic aberrations, achromatic lenses ensure accurate color reproduction in photos and videos, resulting in more realistic and natural images.
  • Laser Systems: Achromatic lenses are used in laser focusing and transmission, reducing the impact of chromatic aberrations on laser quality, thereby improving the overall precision and efficiency of the system.
  • Fiber Optic Communications: Achromatic lenses help reduce dispersion effects, thereby enhancing the quality and stability of signal transmission, which is crucial for fiber optic communication technology.
  • Scientific Research: In scientific instruments such as spectrometers and interferometers, achromatic lenses improve measurement accuracy, enhancing the reliability and precision of data.
  • Industrial Inspection and Machine Vision: In this field, achromatic lenses improve image clarity and accuracy, optimizing the efficiency of inspection and recognition processes.

The outstanding performance of achromatic lenses in reducing chromatic and other aberrations has greatly advanced modern optical technology. The wide range of application areas demonstrates the significant contribution of achromatic lenses to enhancing the performance and imaging quality of various optical systems.

Price Factors for Bulk Purchasing and Customizing Achromatic Lens Elements

When it comes to bulk purchasing and customizing achromatic lenses, the price is primarily determined by the following factors:

  • Material Quality: Achromatic lenses are typically made from high-refractive-index flint glass and low-refractive-index crown glass. The quality of these materials is a key factor affecting lens performance and pricing, with higher-quality optical glass being more expensive.
  • Manufacturing Precision: High-precision processing and assembly are crucial for manufacturing achromatic lenses, involving parameters such as lens surface shape, centration, and surface finish. The higher the precision of the lens, the higher the manufacturing cost.
  • Lens Size and Focal Length: The diameter and focal length of the lens significantly impact the price. Larger diameter and longer focal length lenses require more material and a more complex manufacturing process, making them more expensive.
  • Optical Coatings: Optical coatings that enhance the lens’s transmittance and anti-reflective properties are also a cost factor. Multi-layer high-performance coatings are more expensive than single-layer coatings.
  • Customization Requirements: Lenses customized for specific application needs typically involve additional design, testing, and production costs, making custom lenses more expensive than standard products.
  • Bulk Purchasing: Large-scale production can reduce the cost per lens by spreading out fixed costs. However, the initial mold and setup costs may be high.

In the procurement process, considering factors such as material quality, manufacturing precision, lens size and focal length, optical coatings, customization requirements, and bulk purchasing is key to selecting achromatic lenses that meet specific application needs and budget.

Top 10 Manufacturers of Achromatic Lenses

Achromatic lenses are critical optical components designed to reduce chromatic aberration, making them widely used in microscopes, telescopes, and other optical instruments. Below are the top ten globally recognized suppliers in the field of achromatic lens manufacturing:

  1. Edmund Optics:
    Renowned worldwide for its high-quality optical components, Edmund Optics offers achromatic lenses widely used in both research and industrial applications.
  2. Thorlabs:
    Specializing in products for the optics and photonics fields, Thorlabs provides a diverse range of achromatic lenses to meet the needs of both laboratory and industrial applications.
  3. Newport Corporation:
    Newport offers comprehensive optical solutions for the research and industrial markets, including high-precision achromatic lenses.
  4. Schott AG:
    As a global leader in the specialty glass industry, Schott supplies high-quality optical glass and achromatic lenses.
  5. Nikon:
    Known for its optical instruments, Nikon’s high-performance achromatic lenses are widely used in microscopes and photographic equipment.
  6. Olympus:
    Olympus provides high-quality optical components and systems, including achromatic lenses, primarily serving the medical and research fields.
  7. Zeiss:
    An international leader in optical and optoelectronic technology, Zeiss produces high-precision achromatic lenses widely used in microscopy and photography.
  8. Canon:
    Canon offers a variety of optical components, including achromatic lenses, which are widely used in photography and industrial applications.
  9. Jenoptik:
    Jenoptik provides high-precision optical components and systems for the medical, industrial, and scientific research markets, including achromatic lenses.
  10. OptoSigma:
    Specializing in the manufacture of optical components and systems, OptoSigma offers a variety of achromatic lenses to meet the needs of research and industrial applications.

These top suppliers leverage their extensive technology and experience in optical component manufacturing to provide high-quality achromatic lenses that meet the demands of various applications.


Looking for a cost-effective achromatic lens manufacturer? Consider Chineselens Optics – a leading optical company based in China. We specialize in manufacturing achromatic lenses for a wide range of applications including: camera lenses, telescopes, and microscopes. Chineselens Optics has built a reputation in the industry for affordable pricing and superior product quality.
Whether it’s for your scientific research project, photographic hobby, instrumentation, or any situation where precise imaging is required, our achromatic lenses will provide you with excellent color correction and image clarity. Choose Chineselens Optics for quality optical solutions and services that will help your projects and products reach new heights. Contact our experts today for a consultation!

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