Advancements in adaptive optics technology: micro deformable mirrors and laser guidestars for the next generation of extremely large telescopes


Donald Gavel, Renate Kupke, Sandrine Thomas, Katie Morzinski, Andrew Norton, Rachel Rampy


Laboratory for Adaptive Optics, University of California Lick Observatory


Micro-electro mechanical devices (MEMS) deformable mirrors offer a compact and affordable path to complex next generation AO instruments on large telescopes. In this talk we discuss our plans and experimental progress on MEMS-based AO systems: the high-contrast Gemini Planet Imager, the ShaneAO laser guidestar system, and the proposed Keck Next Generation AO system. Each of these instruments employs unique advantages of micro-mirrors including a large actuator count in a small space and go-to open-loop controllability. Large aperture telescopes present a challenging wide-field optical design problem however, a topic we will address with proposed MEMS solutions. We also discuss the advances in laser guidestar technology for AO, highlighting the need for brighter guidestars as we increase the sampling density for higher Strehl systems. We discuss our modeling of the sodium laser interaction and exploration of pulse and spectral format for maximum return from the sodium layer.

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