Magnetorheological (MR) suspensions, used in optical manufacturing, constitute a new and novel optical finishing technology. These suspensions consist of micron-sized magnetic particles in a carrier liquid and are representative of a class of "intelligent" fluids, i.e. media with controllable properties. They can exhibit rapid and reversible changes in their structure. As an example, the rheological property of viscosity varies by over two orders of magnitude with the application of a magnetic field. The ability to induce changes in mechanical properties has been used in a variety of actuators from vibration isolators and shock absorbers to robotic positioning devices by the Byelocorp Scientific staff, and now to the figuring and finishing of optics.
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