3D printed water-cooled deformable mirror for high power lasers.

In this project the student will investigate the feasibility of a 3D printed deformable mirror with an embedded water-cooling system, and its expected performance under extreme heat conditions based on the selected material and actuator configuration.

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This project is open for Bachelor, Honours and PhD students.
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About

Adaptive Optics (AO) systems have been conventionally used to restore the spatial resolution in astronomical observations from ground-based telescopes that are largely affected by the atmospheric turbulence.

The AO technology not only benefits astronomy, but any application involving light propagation through the atmosphere like laser communications with satellites. Ground to space optical communications require the upwards propagation of high-power lasers to the outer space. This laser light needs to be pre-compensated by the AO instrument to ensure the optimum performance of the system and its success. The atmospheric pre-compensation is inferred by a corrector element or deformable mirror (DM), which needs to handle high power laser beams -and large levels of heat- without being damaged.

Conventional DMs cannot operate under the extreme conditions a high-power laser would impose. First, the heat would introduce a deformation on the DM surface followed by damage on the coating; and once the high-reflectivity coating started to lose effectiveness, the heat would penetrate even more on the mirror producing irreparable damage.

3D printing provides technical solutions to delete interfaces, such as bonding, by printing the deformable mirror and the actuators supports in one step. The cavity structure enabled by the additive manufacturing of the actuators interface will be allocated to a water-cooling system.

In this project the student will investigate the feasibility of a 3D printed deformable mirror with an embedded water-cooling system, and its expected performance under extreme heat conditions based on the selected material and actuator configuration. The student will investigate the current state-of-the-art and potential design options; one of the options will be prototyped at this stage or subsequent stages of the project depending on the availability of the student for longer term research.

 

REQUIRED SKILLS:

Postgraduate students are encouraged to contact the project team and inquire about current and potential research projects. Prior experience in at least two of the following disciplines is required: physics, mechanical engineering, mechatronics, computer science, optical communications, space engineering, instrumentation. Students with science communication experience and/or prior experience bringing the arts and science together within STEAM initiatives (STEAM=Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) are also encouraged and welcome to inquire about possible projects.

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Supervisor

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Instrumentation Scientist