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Optical Surfaces has manufactured and supplied a 180mm-diameter dichroic beamsplitter that will form a key component of the adaptive optics being integrated with the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC), a 10.4m reflecting telescope with a segmented primary mirror, located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma.

According to Mireia Rosado Rubio, an optical engineer in the development group at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, the adaptive optics system is intended to provide diffraction-limited images with the GTC in the H and K bands. This is achieved by correcting the wave-front distortions induced by atmospheric turbulence.

Optical Surfaces’ Dr Aris Kouris said a key objective in the production of the Infrasil 301 dichroic beamsplitter was to maintain a good surface accuracy for the filter side and a good wave-front error in transmission at the exit of the filtering window.

Key benefits of product application

  • Rubio said the dichroic beamsplitter is an essential part of the GTC adaptive optics system as it allows the engineers to direct the infrared part of the spectrum to the science instrument and the visible part of the spectrum to the wave-front sensor.
  • The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias selected Optical Surfaces to supply the dichroic beamsplitter because of its expertise and experience in producing high-precision optics and optical systems at an affordable price.
  • The organisation was particularly pleased with the support provided by Optical Surfaces after delivery.

Optical Surfaces

Optical Surfaces Ltd has been producing large and demanding high-precision optical components and systems for more than 40 years and is today internationally acknowledged for its technical expertise, attention to quality and customer service.

With the main workshops and test facilities deep underground in an area excavated from solid chalk, temperatures remain constant year-round and vibration is practically non-existent. These are important considerations when making, mounting and testing high-precision optics. Working with these natural advantages Optical Surfaces Ltd is able to supply high-precision off-axis parabolas, spherical and flat mirrors, etalons, aspherics, reference flats, windows, collimators and beam expanders for the most demanding applications. With such stable conditions, testing, particularly with long path lengths, becomes quantifiable and reliable. Investment in large-aperture Fizeau, Zygo GPI, Flashphase, Twyman Green, Scatterplate, and Laser Unequal Path interferometers allows detailed testing of the largest-diameter optics. Topographic and fringe analysis provides precise testing of surface roughness and confirms the wavefront of various surface forms. A rolling programme for calibration of test optics where possible to national standards and production approval to ISO 9001-2008 ensure that the quality of optics from Optical Surfaces is second to none.

Today the company is a trusted supplier to leading scientific, astronomical and defence establishments including many space projects worldwide.

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