Application of atmospheric OH suppression technology to ground-based infrared astronomy

Kyler Kuehn*, Stephen Kuhlmann, Simon Ellis, Nathaniel Stern, Pufan Liu, Hannah Caldwell-Meurer, Harold Spinka, David Underwood, Robert Kehoe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

32 Downloads (Pure)


We seek to advance the capabilities of photonic technologies in support of ground-based infrared astronomy. Currently, observers in this field suffer from an irreducible background generated by emission from OH (hydroxyl) molecules in the upper atmosphere. However, if narrow-band notch filters could be incorporated into the optical path of astronomical instruments prior to any optical elements that would spectrally broaden such emission lines, then this background could be effectively suppressed with very little accompanying loss of signal from the astronomical sources of interest. Micron-scale ring resonators are one technology that provides a promising method of generating such notch filters. Building on our previous efforts in astrophotonic technology development, our current goals are 1) to optimize the design of ring resonators so that the notch filters they create provide greatest suppression at the wavelengths of the most prominent OH lines, and 2) to optimize the coupling of the resonator-equipped silicon devices with the input fibers (from the sky) and output fibers (to the spectrograph and detector) such that the throughput losses do not completely eliminate the signal-To-noise improvement gained from the OH suppression. Theoretical estimates show that suppression (by 20-40dB) of the most prominent OH lines improves the signal to noise of near-IR observations by a factor of 5 or more-this is similar in effect to turning a telescope with a 1m aperture into a telescope with a 5m aperture!

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation IV
EditorsRamón Navarro, Roland Geyl
Place of PublicationBellingham, Washington
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781510636903
ISBN (Print)9781510636897
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2020
EventAdvances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation IV 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: 14 Dec 202022 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceAdvances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation IV 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2020 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.


  • astronomical instrumentation
  • infrared spectroscopy
  • photonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Application of atmospheric OH suppression technology to ground-based infrared astronomy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this