An ultrafast wavefront sensor for the ELT.

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics


This project will focus on the development of an "Ultrafast Wavefront Sensor" for the next generation of extreme adaptive optics (XAO) systems. The student will study both adaptive optics and novel detector systems using computer simulations and lab-based experiments.

Planned Impact

The UK ELT programme has two main (non-academic) routes to impact: industrial contract return from ESO, including the instrument
projects, and public engagement (PE). Both of these are dealt with through dedicated work-packages in the proposal, with further
details given in the Pathways to Impact document.

1) Industrial return: The total hardware budget for the telescope construction project at ESO is more than 800MEur and most of that
will be procured from industry in the ESO member states. UK companies are eligible to bid for ESO contracts and a major part of the
industry engagement programme is to find suitable UK companies to put forward to receive calls for tender. There is still over 100MEur
worth of ELT contracts to be let and through past efforts of the programme, UK companies are well placed for a number of specialist
supplies in imaging detectors and software. The end goal of the programme is to see contract return to the UK increase so that we
maximise our share of the construction budget. Our activities in support of this goal include publicising tender opportunities through
email campaigns from the STFC tender opportunities service, targeted meetings with groups of companies and contract-specific events.

2) PE: Astronomy is recognised as a hugely inspiring way to engage the public with the big questions of science, and events such as
Stargazing Oxford and Doors Open at Royal Observatory Edinburgh regularly draw thousands of visitors. We will leverage the existing PE
programmes of the consortium (including the ROE Visitor Centre, STFC Public Engagement & Communications and Oxford University) and
exploit the news value of significant ELT milestones between now and first light. The first phase of the programme will aim to engage
audiences with the technology involved in building the ELT and its systems and will concentrate on `awareness raising' with social
media campaigns, coordinating with ESO on press releases and embedding the ELT into wider STFC PE activities (e.g. piggybacking on the
JWST launch). Subsequent phases will begin to plan activities leading up to telescope first light, and secure additional funding for
resource development and building partnerships with teachers, science centres, and planetaria in preparation for leading a series of
national events.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/S001360/1 01/04/2019 31/03/2024
2314037 Studentship ST/S001360/1 01/01/2020 31/12/2023 Aurelie Magniez