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Photonics is currently shining new light on the increasing demands of astronomical instrumentation.

Published: 22 July 2014

Dr Christopher Holmes explains why astrophotonics is providing exciting solutions in space.

Astrophotonics lies at the interface between astronomy and photonics. An interdisciplinary field, it offers a route to achieve the full theoretical limitation of ground based telescopes.

Specifically photonics can provide high stability and low sensitivity to vibrations and temperature fluctuations. These factors are generally considered to plague traditional technologies, especially in the harsh mountain-top environments that telescopes are often found.

Facilities at the Zepler institute have been recently used to fabricate silica-on-silicon based integrated circuits, for the field of astrophotonics. The below image is a chip fabricated as part of the GRAVITY project. It is an integrated 4T-combiner that interferometrically combines signals from 4 ground based telescopes (images of the developed chips are shown below). This combines signal strength achieves an image resolution significantly greater than that of the individual telescopes.  

Talk to us, contact: Dr Christopher Holmes.

Find out more about the Zepler Institute.

Recent Paper: The beam combiners of Gravity VLTI instrument: concept, development, and performance in laboratory
Authors: Laurent Jocou, Karine Rousselet-Perraut, Thibaut Moulin, Yves Magnard, Pierre R. Labeye, Valerie Lapras, Axelle Nolot, Guy S. Perrin, Frank Eisenhauer, Christopher H. Holmes, Antonio Amorim, Wolfgang Brandner, Christian Straubmeier 
SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation.

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