Optical Sciences Center









Vintage Shop Photos

Optical Systems Development and Fabrication

The Optical Systems Development and Fabrication section of The College of Optical Sciences at The University of Arizona, is a fully functional optical design and fabrication facility. This department, headed by Martin Valente, houses a large optics shop, a small optics shop, opto-mechanical engineering facility, instrument shop, optical generation equipment, and optical testing equipment.

Martin Valente with 16" R-C telescope w/foam core primary mirrorThe small optics shop opticians have vast experience in fabricating precision optical components from many different types of glasses, ceramics and metals. Completed in the small optics shop was an all metal matrix composite 16" R-C telescope and spectrograph launched on the Space Shuttle on 10/29/98. Other work done in the small optics shop includes two facetted quartz blocks for the Gravity Probe B spaceborne experiment. These blocks are roughly 7" in diameter and 22" long with geometrically constrained facets which prevent the use of standard polishing equipment. These facets were hand polished and held to one arcsecond orthogonality requirements in two planes. Other work includes several f/0.5 EUV Imager mirrors with eighth wave surfaces and three Angstrom roughness, an all SXA(Silicon Carbide/Aluminum) Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 16 inch diameter foam SXA primary and 15 element lens bench, and a 10" aperture astrographic lens with diffraction limited performance and zero distortion over a 10 degree field of view.

Bob Crawford grinding the back of a 2m dia. x 2mm thick mirrorThe large optics shop facilities include various polishing machines with turntables up to 170 inches in diameter, a temperature stabilized environment, a 125 foot vertical optical test tower, and a 26 foot vertical optical test tower. The large optics shop is equipped with IR and visible interferometers, and has developed a high speed CCD based interferometer, which has excellent performance over long optical path lengths or in non-ideal testing environments. Examples of work done in the large optics shop include the technology demonstrator for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and a convex mold to be used for the technology demonstrator in the Far Infrared Space Telescope (FIRST) program. The NGST demonstrator is a 2 meter diameter 2 mm thick shell which will be actively controlled for figure correction. The FIRST mold is a 2 meter diameter f/1 convex sphere which will be used for demonstrating replicating technology for graphite-composite based optics. 

Currently underway in the large optics shop is an approximately three year project to grind and polish the primary mirror for the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) which is to be housed at Lowell Observatory.  The capacity of the turntable was increased, and a computer controlled polisher was designed for the completion of the project.  The f/1.9 mirror blank is approximately 4.3 meters.  If the completed mirror were expanded to the size of the United States, the maximum deviation would be a mere one inch.

A backup of a mirror used on the Hubble Space Telescope, which was tested in the large optics shopThe opto-mechanical engineering and instrument shop personnel design and fabricate such devices as optical support structures, space and ground based telescopes, precision optical test instruments, and related equipment. They also perform mirror structural design, structural analysis and opto-mechanical research on various subjects, including optimization and mounting of lens systems and mirrors. Among other projects, they have designed large optical telescopes and telescope subsystems, space-based detectors, and airborne optical instruments for government and industry.


College of Optical Sciences
Meinel Building, The University of Arizona, 1630 East University Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A 85721-0094
Dean's Office Telephone Number: (520) 621-6997
All contents copyright 2005 Arizona Board of Regents
If you require assistance using this site, please contact Ms. please contact Kristin Waller at kwaller@optics.arizona.edu