Thin Shell Manufacturing for large Wavefront correctors
Eric Ruch, Florence Poutriquet
Sagem Défense Sécurité
One of the major key elements in large adaptive optical systems is the thin shell, used as a deformable mirror. Although the optical prescriptions are relaxed with respect to a passive mirror, especially in the low spatial frequency domain, other requirements, such as the cosmetic defects (scratch & dig), the tight control of the thickness uniformity and of course the fragility of the piece having an aspect ratio up to 1000:1, generate new problems during the manufacturing, testing and handling of such optics. Moreover, the optical surface has to be tested in two different ways: a classical optical test bench allows us to create a surface map of the mirror. This map is then computed to determine the force required by the actuators to flatten the mirror and this becomes also a specification for polishing and implies a good interaction with the voice coil manufacturer. More than twenty years ago Sagem – Reosc developed the first meter class thin shell for early adaptive optics experiments. Since then, large thin shell have been used as the optical part in composite mirrors and more recently the aspheric shell for the VLT Deformable Secondary Mirror has been polished and prototypes, up to scale 1, of the E-ELT M4 Adaptive Mirror have been delivered to ESO in 2010. This paper will present some recent results in the manufacturing and testing technologies of large this shell, especially focusing on the development of the 1,1 meter convex aspherical shell for the VLT M2 mirror and on the results obtained on the largest thin shell produced so far (2,5 meter in diameter) developed as a demonstrator for the future E-ELT M4.