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Proceedings Paper

Towards freeform microlens arrays for near infrared astronomical instruments
Author(s): D. Choudhury; A. Arriola; J. R. Allington-Smith; C. Cunningham; R. R. Thomson
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Paper Abstract

A key requirement for astronomical instruments in next generation Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) is the development of large-aperture Integral Field Units (IFUs) that enable the efficient and spatially contiguous sampling of the telescope image plane for coupling stellar light onto a spectrometer. Current IFUs are complex to fabricate and suffer from stray light issues, which limits their application in high-contrast studies such as exoplanet imaging. In this paper, we present our work on the development of freeform microlens arrays using the rapidly maturing technique of ultrafast laser inscription and selective wet chemical etching. Using the focus spot from a femtosecond laser source as a tool with an essentially unrestricted “tool-path”, we demonstrate that it is possible to directly write the surface of a lenslet in three dimensions within the volume of a transparent material. We further show that high surface quality of the lenses can be achieved by using an oxy-natural gas flame to polish the lens surface roughness that is characteristic of the post-etched structures. Using our technique, the shape and position of each lenslet can be tailored to match the spatial positioning of a two-dimensional multimode fiber array, which can be monolithically integrated with the microlens array.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 July 2014
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 9151, Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation, 915146 (18 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2056479
Show Author Affiliations
D. Choudhury, Heriot-Watt Univ. (United Kingdom)
A. Arriola, Heriot-Watt Univ. (United Kingdom)
J. R. Allington-Smith, Durham Univ. (United Kingdom)
C. Cunningham, UK Astronomy Technology Ctr. (United Kingdom)
R. R. Thomson, Heriot-Watt Univ. (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9151:
Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation
Ramón Navarro; Colin R. Cunningham; Allison A. Barto, Editor(s)

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