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6 July 2006 Cost-effective subaperture approaches to finishing and testing astronomical optics
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The fabrication and metrology of astronomical optics are very demanding tasks. In particular, the large sizes needed for astronomical optics and mirrors present significant manufacturing challenges. One of the long-lead aspects (and primary cost drivers) of this process has traditionally been the final polishing and metrology steps. Furthermore, traditional polishing becomes increasingly difficult if the optics are aspheric and/or lightweight. QED Technologies (QED(r)) has developed two novel technologies that have had a significant impact on the production of precision optics. Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF(r)) is a deterministic, production proven, sub-aperture polishing process that can enable significant reductions in cost and lead-time in the production of large optics. MRF routinely achieves surface figure accuracy of better than 30 nm peak-to-valley (better than 5 nm rms) and microroughness better than 1 nm rms on a variety of glasses, glass ceramics and ceramic materials. Unique characteristics of MRF such as a comparatively high, stable removal rate, the conformal nature of the sub-aperture tool and a shear-mode material removal mechanism give it advantages in finishing large and lightweight optics. QED has, for instance, developed the Q22-950F MRF platform which is capable of finishing meter-class optics and the fundamental technology is scalable to even larger apertures. Using MRF for large optics is ideally partnered by a flexible metrology system that provides full aperture metrology of the surface to be finished. A method that provides significant advantages for mirror manufacturing is to characterize the full surface by stitching an array of sub-aperture measurements. Such a technique inherently enables the testing of larger apertures with higher resolution and typically higher accuracy. Furthermore, stitching lends itself to a greater range of optical surfaces that can be measured in a single setup. QED's Subaperture Stitching Interferometer (SSI(r)) complements MRF by extending the effective aperture, accuracy, resolution, and dynamic range of a standard phase-shifting interferometer. This paper will describe these novel approaches to large optics finishing, and present a variety of examples.
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Marc Tricard, Aric Shorey, Bob Hallock, and Paul Murphy "Cost-effective subaperture approaches to finishing and testing astronomical optics", Proc. SPIE 6273, Optomechanical Technologies for Astronomy, 62730L (6 July 2006);

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