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Proceedings Paper

Cost-effective subaperture approaches to finishing and testing astronomical optics
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Paper Abstract

The fabrication and metrology of astronomical optics are very demanding tasks. In particular, the large sizes needed for astronomical optics and mirrors present significant manufacturing challenges. One of the long-lead aspects (and primary cost drivers) of this process has traditionally been the final polishing and metrology steps. Furthermore, traditional polishing becomes increasingly difficult if the optics are aspheric and/or lightweight. QED Technologies (QED(r)) has developed two novel technologies that have had a significant impact on the production of precision optics. Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF(r)) is a deterministic, production proven, sub-aperture polishing process that can enable significant reductions in cost and lead-time in the production of large optics. MRF routinely achieves surface figure accuracy of better than 30 nm peak-to-valley (better than 5 nm rms) and microroughness better than 1 nm rms on a variety of glasses, glass ceramics and ceramic materials. Unique characteristics of MRF such as a comparatively high, stable removal rate, the conformal nature of the sub-aperture tool and a shear-mode material removal mechanism give it advantages in finishing large and lightweight optics. QED has, for instance, developed the Q22-950F MRF platform which is capable of finishing meter-class optics and the fundamental technology is scalable to even larger apertures. Using MRF for large optics is ideally partnered by a flexible metrology system that provides full aperture metrology of the surface to be finished. A method that provides significant advantages for mirror manufacturing is to characterize the full surface by stitching an array of sub-aperture measurements. Such a technique inherently enables the testing of larger apertures with higher resolution and typically higher accuracy. Furthermore, stitching lends itself to a greater range of optical surfaces that can be measured in a single setup. QED's Subaperture Stitching Interferometer (SSI(r)) complements MRF by extending the effective aperture, accuracy, resolution, and dynamic range of a standard phase-shifting interferometer. This paper will describe these novel approaches to large optics finishing, and present a variety of examples.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 2006
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6273, Optomechanical Technologies for Astronomy, 62730L (6 July 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.672385
Show Author Affiliations
Marc Tricard, QED Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Aric Shorey, QED Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Bob Hallock, QED Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Paul Murphy, QED Technologies, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6273:
Optomechanical Technologies for Astronomy
Eli Atad-Ettedgui; Joseph Antebi; Dietrich Lemke, Editor(s)

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