This UA/NASA Space Grant project centralizes the outreach efforts for College of Optical Science students using a new online hub, developed to collect, organize, and disseminate educational activities. Optical Sciences plays a role in many of the innovative technologies transforming our society, making outreach of utmost importance to attract students to the emerging field. Outreach activities at the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences (OSC) help inspire these future innovators. This website provides on-demand training for students unfamiliar with leading demonstrations and inspiration for experienced instructors looking for something new. It emphasizes scientific literacy, effective scientific communication, and serves as a free and accessible resource for STEM classrooms.
The online hub offers students new to outreach an opportunity to familiarize themselves with resources before performing outreach. Although OSC offers a semester-long outreach course that provides face-to-face training, it has the burden of class time and tuition for students. The online hub is freely available, easily accessible, and self-directed by the user’s interests. Multimedia lesson plans provide instructions for effectively presenting to students and document materials required for each activity. Clear objectives are provided to guide the instruction and evaluate the students’ knowledge and interest in optics. Ongoing outreach events are utilized during the academic year to “beta-test” the website. While an online hub greatly enhances the many outreach activities already available to students within the College of Optical Sciences, an online resource has the added benefit of being an accessible resource to teachers, students, and communities around the world.
Current high-contrast imaging systems implement wavefront control using traditional deformable mirrors developed for atmospheric turbulence correction, which require large strokes, high-speed, and continuous phase correction. However, high-contrast imaging has different requirements. Thus, developing a specialized deformable mirror for this application able to meet the demanding requirements of future exoplanet imaging flagship missions is valuable for the exoplanet scientific community. In this paper, we propose a novel wavefront control approach, called Sparse Wave-Front Control (SWFC), which enables high-contrast imaging using sparse phase changes on the active surface re-directing coherent starlight to null speckles. To validate SWFC, we simulated a telescope equipped with a Phase Induced Amplitude Apodization (PIAA) coronagraph and a 100 by 100 actuator sparse Deformable Mirror to null speckles caused by the optical system aberrations. We modeled the mirror as a flat surface where narrow gaussian influence functions represent actuators. We performed wavefront control utilizing Electric Field Conjugation achieving 6.7e-11 mean contrast between 3 to 35λ/D in monochromatic light and 7.4e-11 in 10% broadband light. In the second part of this paper, we propose an approach to manufacture Sparse Deformable Mirrors utilizing photosensitive polymers, which could be placed below the mirror coating and can be photonically actuated by back illumination through the mirror substrate.
We present the optical design and system characterization of an imaging microscope prototype at 121.6 nm. System engineering processes are demonstrated through the construction of a Schwarzschild microscope objective, including tolerance analysis, fabrication, alignment, and testing. Further improvements on the as-built system with a correction phase plate are proposed and analyzed. Finally, the microscope assembly and the imaging properties of the prototype are demonstrated.
Measuring masses of long-period planets around F, G, and K stars is necessary to characterize exoplanets and assess their habitability. Imaging stellar astrometry offers a unique opportunity to solve radial velocity system inclination ambiguity and determine exoplanet masses. The main limiting factor in sparse-field astrometry, besides photon noise, is the non-systematic dynamic distortions that arise from perturbations in the optical train. Even space optics suffer from dynamic distortions in the optical system at the sub-μas level. To overcome this limitation we propose a diffractive pupil that uses an array of dots on the primary mirror creating polychromatic diffraction spikes in the focal plane, which are used to calibrate the distortions in the optical system. By combining this technology with a high-performance coronagraph, measurements of planetary systems orbits and masses can be obtained faster and more accurately than by applying traditional techniques separately. In this paper, we present the results of the combined astrometry and and highcontrast imaging experiments performed at NASA Ames Research Center as part of a Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions program. We demonstrated 2.38x10-5 λ/D astrometric accuracy per axis and 1.72x10-7 raw contrast from 1.6 to 4.5 λ/D. In addition, using a simple average subtraction post-processing we demonstrated no contamination of the coronagraph field down to 4.79x10-9 raw contrast.