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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

A tabletop adaptive optics demonstrator for STEM outreach activities
Author(s): Brennan Taylor; Evan Threlkeld; Tyler Brewer; J. D. Vera Cruz; Matthew Cooper

Paper Abstract

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Laser Division faces the unique challenge of explaining the intricate technical problems in its research portfolio to a varied audience that includes upper military leadership who control program funding all the way to students of all levels as part of STEM outreach activities. An innovative solution to this challenge was developed by a team of junior scientists and engineers in the form of a series of table top demos used to visually illustrate some of the key technical challenges and fundamental science the lab is working on. One of the most challenging problems facing our team is the degrading optical effect caused by turbulence. Modern laser weapons systems utilize Adaptive Optics (AO) to correct for many of these effects and thus our team set out to showcase an AO system approachable to the public. This paper highlights how we use a commercial product as the center of our demo, lessons we have learned while showcasing this demo and a few expansion possibilities. This system boasts a unique ability to speak to all ages and thus has been used to explain key concepts to military leadership at the Pentagon as well as expose elementary students across the USA to STEM challenges. This system is one of a two-part set. The other, focusing on Line-of-Sight Stabilization, is discussed in a sister paper.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 July 2019
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 11143, Fifteenth Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2019, 111431F (2 July 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2521816
Show Author Affiliations
Brennan Taylor, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)
Evan Threlkeld, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)
Tyler Brewer, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)
J. D. Vera Cruz, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)
Matthew Cooper, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11143:
Fifteenth Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2019
Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard; Joseph A. Shaw, Editor(s)

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