Laboratory For Innovation In Opto-Mechanics

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Work Packages

Our work packages are designed to solve human social and technical/scientific problems that encompass both local and global issues. In broad terms some of the WPs help us facilitate a research environment that maximises IAC’s institutional “energy” that goes towards our targeted scientific research and education, and helps us create sustainability for these resources beyond the EU funding sunset. All of these WPs will facilitate productive collaboration in a supportive research environment built from both new EU funded building blocks and existing IAC resources. This laboratory encompasses optics, mechanics, and machine learning domains, and is a training centre and proving arena for the novel technical solutions our other WPs advance.


1. Project Management, ERA Chair & LIOM Team foundation: To provide overall management support to the action to enable the successful execution of the proposed tasks and activities. This WP also includes the selection, recruitment and hiring of the ERA Chair and LIOM Team members (technicians, researchers and project manager).

2. Create Innovative Optics, mechanics and Photonics Metrology Capacities. Advance research and modelling devoted to creating large, effectively stiff, optomechanical structures that reduce the currently achieved mass-to-stiffness ratios in large telescopes by an order of magnitude. Conduct research with biomimetics, active and passive artificial and hybrid (e.g. negative poisson ratio) materials, membrane tensegrity, and photonic metrology concepts. Develop the modelling laboratory using state-of-the-art finite element multiphysics tools. Current Keck-era telescopes achieve the stiff optomechanical surface required to form a coherent image with a combination of mirror backing mass and electromagnetic edge controls. When the optical aperture is spatially distributed and the stiffness is relaxed to be consistent with atmospheric path length fluctuations, it becomes possible to fabricate much larger optomechanical coherent imaging systems with less mass. This WP develops optomechanical solutions that, when combined with WP3, allow much larger coherent imaging ground based telescopes. Primary external advisors will come from Dynamic Intelligent Structures (DiSL)

3. Create Wavefront and Diffraction Control Innovations. Devise and develop innovative wavefront and coronagraphy control algorithms that utilise the distributed aperture optical telescope configuration in order to achieve at least 10E-7 raw contrast at 2 lambda/D angles. Use machine learning, image domain, Mach-Zehnder and dual wavefront control algorithms to overcome scattered light and angular resolution limitations of Keck-era telescope optics. Distributed aperture telescopes allow control of the wavefront at the telescope entrance pupil. Unlike conventional Keck-era telescopes this allows the wavefront to be shaped before it is diffracted by the pupil. This WP extends the adaptive optics technology commonly used in conventional telescopes to more effectively control diffraction and atmospheric wavefront phase errors when the pupil function can be arbitrarily modulated. Optimal use of the “synthetic pupil” available to these optics is the focus of this WP.

4. Create convincing prototype demonstrations and compelling proposals for
next generation ultra-large telescopes.
Create convincing physical demonstration and compelling future proposals for these distributed aperture hybrid optical telescope concepts, both for astrophysical exoplanet studies and commercial development of near-Earth space. The initiative for the construction of a prototype hybrid interferometer- telescope has been an ambition of IAC for long, and it is expected that it will soon begin construction in the Canary Islands with the support of the national government. LIOM is a catalyzer and a crucial step forward to make it a reality because “Small-ELF” needs the elements of tensegrity, ultra-thin subaperture mirrors, and advanced wavefront control described in this proposal. This WP ensures that this prototype is completed and exploited, and that all practical lessons learned from it are incorporated in the next proposals to be prepared for the broader scientific and commercial communities.

5. Create IAC environment to complete milestones and sustain research beyond
IAC and EU funding.
Create an IAC environment to complete the milestones and to sustain research beyond the IAC and this EU funding period. LIOM includes an ambitious set of goals and success here clearly requires attention to creating a productive social and research/education environment. This WP directs resources towards IAC institutional structural changes including the creation of an optics, fabrication, and precision metrology laboratory, modelling and simulation laboratories, and the learning and education environments that are essential to sustaining this EU investment beyond the 5 year funding horizon.

6. Effectively disseminate, communicate, exploit and network for the benefit of
research and education.
Led by the IAC Scientific Culture and Communications Unit (UC3), the goal of this WP is: In first place to disseminate and communicate the work on the new capabilities available at the IAC by: publicising project activities, involving regional, national and international stakeholders, creating awareness about the Widening R&I excellence, increasing the attractiveness of the IAC for internationally excellent and mobile research, protecting the exploitable results of the project and increasing the IAC`s network. Secondly, this WP is key for the collaborative networking methodology by promoting direct networking activities and establishing direct actions to protect the results of the project.