OPTICON H2020 program

The new OPTICON proposal has been selected by the H2020 program and starts early 2017. We are part of this 4-years European effort through two work-packages focused on

  • The development of smart structures taking advantage of additive manufacturing methods
  • The development of metrology methods for testing of freeform optics.

These activities are in perfect synergies with the ERC program ICARUS, addressing complementary developments for the next generation of ground based and space observatories.

Additive manufacturing and integrated components for astronomy

Lead: Hermine Schnetler (UK-ATC)
First part of the project is primarily aimed at evaluating the suitability of both the materials and the various manufacturing processes used in additive and laser enhanced manufacturing methods. We will mainly focus on evaluating the possibilities of producing large scale structures and novel integrated designs using additive and laser enhanced manufacturing methodologies. Test pieces will be manufactured and the suitability of existing additive manufacturing materials will be tested in a cryogenic environment. We will then focus on the design and testing of simple integrated (actuator and sensor) mechanisms, made by using additive and laser enhanced manufacturing techniques,and then use laser enhanced techniques to improve the surface quality of additive manufactured components. In addition the team will also evaluate the possibility of using laser enhanced techniques to manufacture micro-lens arrays.

Freeform active mirrors & innovative metrology

Lead: Michael Rodendhuis, Leiden Observatory (NOVA)
NOVA, ASTRON, UK-ATC, Konkoly Observatory, LAM
Using the lessons learned from FAME, an improved FAME+ design will be developed, maintaining and strengthening these unique features. The number and layout of the actuator nodes can be optimized to deliver the required modal correction performance with a minimum of actuators. As a large fraction of optical instruments are cooled, the design of FAME+ will be compatible with operation in both vacuum and cryogenic environments. A further area of improvement is the mirror face sheet. Alternatives to the current hydro-formed design will be developed and evaluated. One attractive solution is additive manufacturing, which is the topic of another proposed WP “Additive Manufacturing and Integrated Components for Astronomy”. The two proposals are highly complementary and synergy and have a substantial number of common partners. The project will include a strong focus on developing a stable and effective metrology & control system for the active mirror. This is non-trivial, being of similar complexity as the manufacturing of the active (freeform) mirror itself. The system should add a minimum of complexity both in terms of optical design and instrument control software. Otherwise, any cost reduction realized with a freeform design through its increased simplicity and lower volume/mass is quickly lost.