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Proceedings Paper

Development of lightweight mirror elements for the Euro50 mirrors
Author(s): Harold E. Bennett; Robert C. Romeo; Joseph J. Shaffer; Peter C. Chen
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Paper Abstract

New, very large telescopes with apertures of 30, 50, and 100 meters are being proposed by the astronomical community. Superpolished or ultrapolished mirrors with low scattered light levels and the use of adaptive optics for near-diffraction-limited performance would make such large telescopes a turning point in astronomy. The secondary mirror for the Euro50 will be a four meter adaptive optic made of a low expansion graphite-filled cyanate ester resin composite produced using a replica transfer technique. We have made three 1/3rd meter diameter prototype composite adaptive optic mirrors of this cyanate ester composite material. Because of the embedded graphite fibers, the composite material has a measured expansion coefficient in the 10-8 range, as has Zerodur or ULE glass. It is very much lighter, more rugged and more economical than Zerodur or ULE, and can be fabricated in weeks, not months. The Zerodur mandrels upon which these replica transfer mirrors are made are superpolished using centrifugal elutriation, so the replica surface has an rms roughness of 0.6 to 0.8 nm. It thus scatters about an order of magnitude less light than typical conventionally polished astronomical mirrors. In adaptive optic mirrors with sub-mm thick faceplates the number of plies used is insufficient to produce an isotropic surface. For mirrors 2 mm thick, with more plies, the surfaces are isotropic, and the slight astigmatism sometimes resulting from the mesh in the ply can be corrected by actuators to make them attractive mirrors. They must be supported to maintain a good optical figure over a meter diameter mirror. The support requirement may be met by using a new type of mechanical/piezoelectric actuator adjustable to a fraction of a wavelength. The mechanical actuators have a coarse adjust of over an mm and a fine adjust of less than a wavelength of light. They can be used in series with a novel type of piezoelectric actuator for final static adjustment. The low voltage, up to 2.5 kHz frequency piezoelectric actuators have a displacement of approximately one μm per volt, 82 times greater than conventional piezoelectric actuators, and a throw of ±30 μm or more. Compliant faceplates can be adaptive as well as active. Calculations indicate that for actuator spacings of about 4 cm the effective mirror stiffness equals that of a solid Zerodur mirror with a conventional 6:1 diameter to thickness ratio. The effect of gravitational sag for composite mirrors is calculated to be negligible. They are thus a good choice for the secondary mirror for the Euro50 as well as for the primary or secondary mirrors for other giant telescopes.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 July 2004
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 5382, Second Backaskog Workshop on Extremely Large Telescopes, (7 July 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.566262
Show Author Affiliations
Harold E. Bennett, Bennett Optical Research, Inc. (United States)
Robert C. Romeo, Composite Mirror Applications, Inc. (United States)
Joseph J. Shaffer, Bennett Optical Research, Inc. (United States)
Peter C. Chen, Composite Mirror Applications, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5382:
Second Backaskog Workshop on Extremely Large Telescopes
Arne L. Ardeberg; Torben Andersen, Editor(s)

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