Efficient injection from large telescopes into single-mode fibres: enabling the era of ultra-precision astronomy

N. Jovanovic*, C. Schwab, O. Guyon, J. Lozi, N. Cvetojevic, F. Martinache, S. Leon-Saval, B. Norris, S. Gross, D. Doughty, T. Currie, N. Takato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Photonic technologies offer numerous advantages for astronomical instruments such as spectrographs and interferometers owing to their small footprints and diverse range of functionalities. Operating at the diffraction-limit, it is notoriously difficult to efficiently couple such devices directly with large telescopes. We demonstrate that with careful control of both the non-ideal pupil geometry of a telescope and residual wavefront errors, efficient coupling with single-mode devices can indeed be realised. A fibre injection was built within the Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) instrument. Light was coupled into a single-mode fibre operating in the near-IR (J-H bands) which was downstream of the extreme adaptive optics system and the pupil apodising optics. A coupling efficiency of 86% of the theoretical maximum limit was achieved at 1550 nm for a diffraction-limited beam in the laboratory, and was linearly correlated with Strehl ratio. The coupling efficiency was constant to within <30% in the range 1250-1600 nm. Preliminary on-sky data with a Strehl ratio of 60% in the H-band produced a coupling efficiency into a single-mode fibre of ~50%, consistent with expectations. The coupling was >40% for 84% of the time and >50% for 41% of the time. The laboratory results allow us to forecast that extreme adaptive optics levels of correction (Strehl ratio >90% in H-band) would allow coupling of >67% (of the order of coupling to multimode fibres currently) while standard levels of wavefront correction (Strehl ratio >20% in H-band) would allow coupling of >18%. For Strehl ratios <20%, few-port photonic lanterns become a superior choice but the signal-To-noise, and pixel availability must be considered. These results illustrate a clear path to efficient on-sky coupling into a single-mode fibre, which could be used to realise modal-noise-free radial velocity machines, very-long-baseline optical/near-IR interferometers and/or simply exploit photonic technologies in future instrument design.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA122
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • instrumentation: high angular resolution
  • instrumentation: spectrographs
  • instrumentation: interferometers


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