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The Central Laser Facility at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Didcot, UK, has taken delivery of an ultra-high-precision off-axis parabolic mirror from Optical Surfaces. The ultra-smooth mirror will form a crucial focusing element in RAL’s ongoing experimentation using the Vulcan Nd:Glass high-energy laser.

According to Trevor Winstone, operations manager for the Vulcan laser at RAL, the F/15 off-axis parabola will be used for experiments that require long Rayleigh focal length such as electron acceleration experiments.

Optical Surfaces’ team produced the 320mm-diameter, off-axis parabolic mirror with a surface accuracy of better than lambda/8 P-V, surface gradient of better than lambda/20 P-V and smoothness of 20/10 scratch/dig.

The off-axis mirror was manufactured in Clearceram HS and coated using a special high-performance material to produce high reflectivity (R>99 per cent) at 1,053nm and 527nm.

Key benefit of product application

  • The excellent surface quality and high-reflectivity coatings are enabling RAL researchers to achieve the high optical performance and efficiency required for their experiments.

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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