Large Optics Fabrication and Testing Group

The LOFT research group (Large Optics Fabrication and Testing) led by Prof. Daewook Kim consists of research faculty, staff, and students dedicated to developing advanced technologies for optical testing and fabrication of large optical components and systems. LOFT research is closely tied to hardware projects at the Optical Engineering and Fabrication Facility (OEFF) at the College of Optical Sciences and the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab (RFCML). The intersection of basic research and production driven projects provides LOFT faculty and students the ability to efficiently take technical solutions from concept to prototype to full scale implementation. Likewise the implementation of advanced technologies allows OEFF and RFCML to build new classes of optical components and systems. LOFT students and faculty make significant contributions to new astronomical telescopes and advanced optical instruments.

Daewook Kim and Heejoo Choi, LOFT group PI and Co-PI

Optical Engineering and Fabrication Facility / Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

The Optical Engineering and Fabrication Facility (OEFF) is headed by Jeff Kingsley (Director) / Chang-jin Oh (Technical Director) and is comprised of a research staff specializing in the manufacture, test and assembly of unique optical and optomechanical systems up to 6.5-meters in diameter. The OEFF originated as the Optics Shop in the early 1970’s as part of the vision of Professor Aden Meinel for the Optical Sciences Center to provide pioneering research in the field of optical engineering. This facility has grown substantially over the years, providing engineering and fabrication resources to the College of Optical Sciences faculty to carry out their research.

The OEFF has state of the art optical fabrication and testing equipment. We have built three robotic grinding and polishing machines, capable of manufacturing on-axis and off-axis aspheres, concave or convex up to 1.8-meters in diameter. We have designed and built these machines with in-situ metrology systems that enable us to test components during both grinding and polishing phases, with accuracies approaching several nm rms. We have also built a 6.5-meter capacity computer controlled grinder and polisher, which is positioned under our 35-meter vertical test tower. This allows us to perform optical tests on a wide variety of parts without moving the part off of the machine. We have several simultaneous phase shifting interferometers, both Twyman Green and Fizeau types, and also have two laser tracker systems, which we use for precision alignment of optics and optomechanical assemblies. OEFF completed the next generation solar telescope, the 4.2 m Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), primary mirror made out of Zerodur in 2016.

The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab headed by Buell Jannuzi (Steward Observatory Director), Jeff Kingsley (Associate Director), and Roger Angel (Director) is part of the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona. It was built to make telescope mirrors that offer superior performance and that could not be obtained commercially. The primary advantage of these mirrors is their lightweight honeycomb structure with a mass only 1/5 that of a sold mirror of the same dimensions. These mirrors hold their shape under forces of gravity and wind, and minimize thermal effects by closely following the changing air temperature. A number of large telescopes have been designed to use the honeycomb mirrors. The Mirror Lab’s ability to supply them makes it possible for the university to be a partner in some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, including the 2 × 8.4 m Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), the 8.4 m Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the 25 m Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

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