Applied Physics

Optically Adapting

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Science  23 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6075, pp. 1410
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6075.1410-b

When light passes through the atmosphere, fluctuations in air density can introduce distortions in the optical wavefront, resulting in aberrations of an image. For high-end astronomical telescopes, adaptive optics in the form of deformable mirrors can be used to iron out the distortions in the wavefronts and effectively remove the twinkle from the stars. The dense arrays of microelectromechanical systems used for such adaptive optics applications tend to be costly add-ons because of the detailed fabrication and control hardware required. Bonora et al. introduce a simpler adaptive optics system in which the deformable mirror is controlled by light. Their deformable mirror is an electrostatic membrane mirror with one of the electrodes replaced by a photoconductive material. The electrostatic coupling and thus the extent of the local deformation can therefore be controlled by varying the intensity of light hitting the photoconductive electrode. The authors argue that such a simple design should make adaptive optics readily available for other applications.

Opt. Express 20, 5178 (2012).

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