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Proceedings Paper

Large aperture nanocomposite deformable mirror technology
Author(s): Peter C. Chen; Richard D. Hale
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Paper Abstract

We report progress in the development of deformable mirrors (DM) using nanocomposite materials. For the extremely large telescopes (ELTs) currently being planned, a new generation of DMs with unprecedented performance is a critical path item. The DMs need to have large apertures (meters), continuous surfaces, and low microroughness. Most importantly, they must have excellent static optical figures and yet be sufficiently thin (1-2 mm) and flexible to function with small, low powered actuators. Carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) have the potential to fulfill these requirements. However, CFRP mirrors made using direct optical replication have encountered a number of problems. Firstly, it is difficult if not impossible for a CFRP mirror to maintain a good static optical figure if a small number of plies are used, but adding more plies to the laminate tends to make the substrate too thick and stiff. Secondly, direct optical replication requires precision mandrels, the costs of which become prohibitive at multi-meter apertures. We report development of a new approach. By using a combination of a novel support structure, selected fibers, and binding resins infused with nanoparticles, it is possible to make millimeter thick optical mirrors that can both maintain good static optical figures and yet still have the required flexibility for actuation. Development and refinement of a non-contact, deterministic process of fine figuring permits generation of accurate optical surfaces without the need for precision optical mandrels. We present data from tests that have been carried out to demonstrate these new processes. A number of flat DMs have been fabricated, as well as concave and convex DMs in spherical, parabolic, and other forms.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 November 2007
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6721, 3rd International Symposium on Advanced Optical Manufacturing and Testing Technologies: Large Mirrors and Telescopes, 67210R (21 November 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.782951
Show Author Affiliations
Peter C. Chen, Catholic Univ. of America (United States)
Richard D. Hale, Univ. of Kansas (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6721:
3rd International Symposium on Advanced Optical Manufacturing and Testing Technologies: Large Mirrors and Telescopes

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