In this contribution, we review the results of the ALSI project (Advanced Laser-writing for Stellar Interferometry), aimed at assessing the potential of ultrafast laser writing to fabricate mid-infared integrated optics (IO) devices with performance compatible with an implementation in real interferometric instruments like Hi5 or PFI. Waveguides for the L, L' and M bands with moderate propagation losses were manufactured in Gallium Lanthanum Sulfide and ZBLAN glasses and used to develop photonic building blocks as well as a full mid-IR 4-telescope beam combiner. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the tested combiners and discuss a possible roadmap for the continuation of this work.
The combination of Lucky Imaging with a low order adaptive optics system was demonstrated very successfully on the Palomar 5m telescope nearly 10 years ago. It is still the only system to give such high-resolution images in the visible or near infrared on ground-based telescope of faint astronomical targets. The development of AOLI for deployment initially on the WHT 4.2 m telescope in La Palma, Canary Islands, will be described in this paper. In particular, we will look at the design and status of our low order curvature wavefront sensor which has been somewhat simplified to make it more efficient, ensuring coverage over much of the sky with natural guide stars as reference object. AOLI uses optically butted electron multiplying CCDs to give an imaging array of 2000 x 2000 pixels.
The Adaptive Optics Lucky Imager, AOLI, is an instrument developed to deliver the highest spatial resolution ever obtained in the visible, 20 mas, from ground-based telescopes. In AOLI a new philosophy of instrumental prototyping has been applied, based on the modularization of the subsystems. This modular concept offers maximum flexibility regarding the instrument, telescope or the addition of future developments.
Fringe tracking at longer wavelengths is advantageous for its larger Fried parameter (R0) and longer coherence time (τ0). The fringe trackers which are currently available at the VLTi (Finito, FSU, Gravity, etc.) tracks fringes at the near infrared wavelengths (H and K bands). In our work we try to explore the possibilities to track near and mid- infrared fringes using GLS based laser written integrated optics beam combiners. We simulate the atmospheric optical path difference (OPD) using Kolmogorov/Von-Karman atmospheric turbulence statistics. We also include the measured the piston noise generated due to the instrumental vibrations. Using the resulting OPD time series we can estimate the sensitivity of the fringe tracker at the L band.
Integrated optics (IO) has proven to be a competitive solution for beam combination in the context of astronomical interferometry (e.g. GRAVITY at the VLTI). However, conventional silica-based lithographic IO is limited to wavelengths shorter than 2.2μm. We report in this paper the progress on our attempt to extend the operation of IO to longer wavelengths. Previous work has demonstrated the suitability of chalcogenide devices in the MID-IR in the N band and monochromatically at 3.39 μm. Here, we continue this effort with the manufacturing of new laser written GLS IO as beam combiners designed for the astronomical L band and characterized interferometrically at 3.39 μm. In the era of multi-telescope interferometers, we present a promising solution to strengthen the potential of IO for new wavelength ranges.