EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 419, Number 2, May IV 2004
Page(s) 777 - 782
Section Instruments, observational techniques, and data processing
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20034474

A&A 419, 777-782 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20034474

Nanoengineered astronomical optics

E. F. Borra1, 2, A. M. Ritcey1, 3, R. Bergamasco1, 3, P. Laird1, 2, J. Gingras1, 3, M. Dallaire1, 2, L. Da Silva1, 2 and H. Yockell-Lelievre1, 3

1  Centre d'Optique, Photonique et Lasers, Université Laval, Québec, Qc, G1K 7P4, Canada
2  Département de physique, de génie physique et d'optique, Université Laval, Québec, Qc, G1K 7P4, Canada
3  Département de Chimie, Université Laval, Québec, Qc, G1K 7P4, Canada

(Received 16 May 2003 / Accepted 12 January 2004)

We describe a technology for the fabrication of inexpensive and versatile mirrors through the use of a new type of nanoengineered optical material composed by the spreading of a self-assembling reflective colloidal film spread at the surface of a liquid. These new reflecting liquids offer interesting possibilities for astronomical instrumentation. For example, they can replace mercury in conventional rotating liquid mirrors. The main advantages offered include extremely low cost and, by coating a viscous liquid, the possibility of tilting the mirror by a few tens of degrees. We also have coated ferromagnetic liquids with these reflecting films. The resulting surfaces can be shaped by the application of a magnetic field, yielding reflecting surfaces that can have complicated shapes that can rapidly shift with time. These inexpensive and versatile optical elements could have numerous scientific and technological applications. Among possible astronomical applications, they could be used to make large inexpensive adaptive mirrors exhibiting strokes ranging from nanometers to several millimeters.

Key words: telescopes -- instrumentation: miscellaneous -- instrumentation: adaptive optics

Offprint request: E. F. Borra, borra@phy.ulaval.ca

© ESO 2004