Holographic Optical Testing for ELTs

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics


The production of a huge number of mirror segments will be key to the construction of extremely large telescopes (such as the E-ELT). It is clear that the optical testing of these mirror segments will be problematic without the further development of new techniques in optical metrology. For example, the mirror segments in the US TMT are likely to be highly aspheric and the E-ELT segments will have very long (100m) focal lengths. One solution to both problems is to generate an aspheric reference wave-front in the interferometer. This can be achieved with fixed conventional optics, but time consuming to set up and often costly. A much more flexible approach uses computer generated holograms (CGH). A CGH can be relatively simply designed such that it produces, in one of its diffracted orders, an exact copy of the desired wavefront. The technique is robust and verifiable in that the generated wave-front is defined by the patterns of binary lines in the CGH. An alternative to either conventional optics or fixed CGH elements would be to use similar computer generated holographic techniques but with a programmable spatial light modulator (SLM) making the technique flexible and reconfigurable. An SLM is essentially an array of electrically controllable pixels, similar in design to an LCD display, which can be switched to modify the intensity, polarisation or phase of light as it passes through or is reflected off them. Displaying a designed CGH pattern on an SLM will produce the same wave-front as the fixed fabricated CGH but with the added advantage that a single element can be programmed to produce a wide variety of different reference wave-fronts. In this project we aim to begin a 3-way collaboration between Durham, Imperial College, and the NPL. Durham and Imperial have already collaborated via an initial STFC-funded Innovative Technology Fund Grant. This work was successful and we demonstrated the basic feasibility of using programmable reference wavefronts in optical metrology and also produced a number of new algorithms and ways of using an SLM in an interferometer. We propose to build on this work via 2 CASE studentships - one at Imperial and one at Durham, both in collaboration with NPL. The overall aims are to produce a traceable programmable holographic interferometer based on our new techniques and to transfer this technology to NPL for verification and exploitation. Their will be strong interaction between all 3 groups, but the Imperial student will be biased towards the algorithms and fundamentals of interferometry using SLMs, and the Durham student will be biased towards testing and verification of the interferometer. More generally, a key aspect in any high quality optics manufacturing process is the ability to measure and verify the form of the optical surfaces being produced. Metrology is the technology that enables a production process or scientific instrument to deliver to a defined specification. Producing optics and other complex surfaces requires cycles of polishing and metrology to converge on final form, followed by traceable metrology to certify the final product. Optical designers are increasingly recognising the benefits of more complex and accurate forms, in order to enhance performance, simplify systems and reduce mass. As a result, these same optical designers are increasingly facing the challenge of building these complex forms when the backup of adequate metrology simply does not exist. Ultimately, this will limit the ambition of optical and system designers, and so throttle the use of aspheres, off-axis aspheres and other complex forms in systems design. I One solution to both problems is to generate an aspheric refer


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Description We developed a new technique for optical testing of complex optical surfaces based on holography
Exploitation Route They can read the paper and use the methods themselves.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine

Description This work has been used by the National Physical Lab in their programme of optical measurements.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Description Holographic Reference Surfaces 
Organisation National Physical Laboratory
Department Quantum Metrology Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We collaborated via a STFC CASE award with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to produce holographically generate reference surfaces for optical testing.
Collaborator Contribution Optical testing of surfaces is typical achieved via interferometry, which in turn requires a reference surface. For flat or spherical surfaces this is relatively simple. However the testing of aspherical surfaces is complicated by the fact that generally aspherical reference optics are not available. We explored the use of spatial light modulators and holography to generate arbitrary waveforms for NPL. The PhD student (Matthew Cashmore) worked closely with NPL during his PhD and indeed went on to work for them post-PhD.
Impact We produced two papers and a PhD thesis.
Start Year 2009