The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) has developed since June 2014 an optical laboratory that comprises all the activities and facilities related to the research and development of new instruments in the following areas: telescope design, high dynamic and high resolution imaging systems and spectrographs. The facilities include ZEMAX and Solidwork software for design and simulation activities as well as an optical room with all the equipment required to develop optical setup with cutting-edge performance.
The current projects include: i) the development of a focal reducer for the 2.3 m Thai National Telescope (TNT), ii) the development of the Evanescent Wave Coronagraph dedicated to the high contrast observations of star close environment and iii) the development of low resolution spectrographs for the Thai National Telescope and for the 0.7 m telescopes of NARIT regional observatories. In each project, our activities start from the instrument optical and mechanical design to the simulation of the performance, the development of the prototype and finally to the final system integration, alignment and tests. Most of the mechanical parts are manufactured by using the facilities of NARIT precision mechanical workshop that includes a 3-axis Computer Numerical Control (CNC) to machine the mechanical structures and a Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) to verify the dimensions.
In this paper, we give an overview of the optical laboratory activities and of the associated facilities. We also describe the objective of the current projects, present the specifications and the design of the instruments and establish the status of development and we present our future plans.
Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) is a type of spectroscopy that can be used to analyze components in the sample. The basic setup that is commonly used in this technique is “Michelson interferometer”. The interference signal obtained from interferometer can be Fourier transformed into the spectral pattern of the illuminating light source. To experimentally study the concept of the Fourier transform spectroscopy, the project started by setup the Michelson interferometer in the laboratory. The implemented system used a broadband light source in near infrared region (0.81-0.89 μm) and controlled the movable mirror by using computer controlled motorized translation stage. In the early study, there is no sample the interference path. Therefore, the theoretical spectral results after the Fourier transformation of the captured interferogram must be the spectral shape of the light source. One main challenge of the FTS is to retrieve the correct phase information of the inferferogram that relates with the correct spectral shape of the light source. One main source of the phase distortion in FTS that we observed from our system is the non-linear movement of the movable reference mirror of the Michelson interferometer. Therefore, to improve the result, we coupled a monochromatic light source to the implemented interferometer. We simultaneously measured the interferograms of the monochromatic and broadband light sources. The interferogram of the monochromatic light source was used to correct the phase of the interferogram of the broadband light source. The result shows significant improvement in the computed spectral shape.