Subaperture approaches to finishing and testing astronomical optics

Greg Forbes*, Marc Tricard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We describe the application of both stitching interferometry and magneto-rheological finishing (MRF) to the surface metrology and final figure correction of large optics. These particular subaperture technologies help to address the need for flexible systems that improve both overall manufacturing time and cost effectiveness. MRF can achieve high volumetric removal rates with a small-footprint tool that is perfectly conformable and highly stable. This tool is therefore well suited to finishing large optics (including aspheres) and correcting mid-spatial frequency errors. The system does not need vacuum, reduces microroughness to below one nm rms on most materials, and is able to meet the figure tolerance specs for astronomical optics. Such a technology is ideally complemented by a system for the stitching of interferometric subaperture data. Stitching inherently enables the testing of larger apertures with higher resolution and, thanks to die inbuilt calibration, even to higher accuracy in many situations. Moreover, given the low-order character of the dominant residual uncertainties in the stitched full-aperture data, such an approach is well suited to adaptive mirrors because the actuators correct precisely these deformations. While this approach enables the non-null testing of parts with greater aspheric departure and can lead to a significantly reduced non-common air path in the testing of long-radius concave parts, it is especially effective for convex optics. That is, stitching is particularly well suited to the testing of secondary mirrors and, alongside the testing of the off-axis primary segments, these are clearly critical challenges for extremely large telescope (ELT) projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-448
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART 2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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