For ground- and spaced based applications, Ag coated reflectors are indispensable because of their high reflectivity. The transport, assembling and storage of these reflectors takes a long time, before they are finally commissioned for the actual applications. To endure this period without a decrease of reflectivity, protective coatings with a final layer, which offers a high resistance to aqueous solutions and a low mechanical stress should be used. These criteria were taken into account for the selection of a final layer for a protected Ag-coating, which was applied for reflectors utilized in the CRIRES+- instrument (an IR spectrograph used at the VLT). Reactively sputtered Al2O3, SiO2 and Si3N4 layers were investigated with regard to these criteria. In aqueous (basic) solutions, the investigated Si3N4 layers are more stable than the SiO2 layers, and the SiO2 layers are more stable than the Al2O3 layers. This shows the influence of the intrinsic material properties. The mechanical stress of the sputtered layers depends on the deposition conditions and thus on the selected parameters. A Si3N4 layer with a high resistance to aqueous solutions also offers a low and stable mechanical stress. Therefore, the deposition-parameters which have been used for this layer were applied for sputtering the final layer of the protected Ag-coating for the reflectors.
Several mirrors for the upgrade of the CRyogenic high-resulution InfraRed Echelle Sprectrograph (CRIRES) at the Very Large Telescope, were manufactured by diamond turning and polishing. These mirrors will be used in the crossdispersion unit (CDU) and the fore optics of the instrument. For background level reasons, the operational temperature of the CDU is set to 65 K. Therefore, the flat and spherical mirrors used in the CDU, which are made of melt-spun aluminum alloy Al6061, had to be artificially aged, to improve the dimensional stability at cryogenic temperatures. After diamond turning, magnetorheological finishing (MRF) was used for a deterministic shape correction and to remove the turning marks of the RSA6061 mirrors. To reduce the micro-roughness, a further smoothing step was necessary. A micro-roughness between 1 nm RMS and 5 nm RMS as well as shape deviations below 35 nm RMS were achieved. The mirrors were coated by inline magnetron sputtering with a high-reflective gold layer or protected silver, respectively.
Order sorting filters had to be coated for the CRyogenic InfaRed Echelle Spectrograph upgrade (CRIRES+)-instrument, a high-resolution IR spectrograph to be set up at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. Therefore SiO2 was chosen as material with low refractive index. Si and Ge have been investigated as materials with high refractive index, whereby Si has been chosen for the application of the coating. Three types of high-pass filters were deposited with transmission bands starting at 0.96μm, 1.47μm and 2.9μm. These filters need to block effectively all wavelengths between 0.5 μm and the respective band. Therefore, in the blocking range, an optical density above four, or above three for the filter starting at 2.9 μm respectively, had to be achieved. The filter-coatings also needed to survive thermal cycling down to 65K while only introducing a small wave front error. The lower total thickness, compared to coatings consisting of other materials, and the low film-stress are favorable properties for coatings deposited onto prisms and other more complex optical components.
The optical system of the hyperspectral imager of the Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) consists of a three-mirror anastigmat (TMA) and two independent spectrometers working in the VNIR and SWIR spectral range, respectively. The VNIR spectrometer includes a spherical NiP coated Al6061 mirror that has been ultra-precisely diamond turned and finally coated with protected silver as well as four curved fused silica (FS) and flint glass (SF6) prisms, respectively, each with broadband antireflection (AR) coating, while the backs of the two outer prisms are coated with a high-reflective coating. For AR coating, plasma ion assisted deposition (PIAD) has been used; the high-reflective enhanced Ag-coating on the backside has been deposited by magnetron sputtering. The SWIR spectrometer contains four plane and spherical gold-coated mirrors, respectively, and two curved FS prisms with a broadband antireflection coating. Details about the ultra-precise manufacturing of metal mirrors and prisms as well as their coating are presented in this work.
Metal mirrors are an attractive solution for scan mirrors working with ultra-short pulse lasers. Small mechanical inertia and a small mirror mass are required. Therefore, the mirrors have to be very stiff and a high quality optical surface has to be provided. This can be achieved with lightweight AlSi based mirrors with diamond-turned NiP polishable plating.
Different coating options were evaluated in order to provide the necessary high reflectivity and a satisfactory laser damage threshold for ultrashort laser pulses in the few ps to fs regime at λ = 1030 nm. High-reflective metal layers enhanced by dielectric HfO2/SiO2 stacks were found to be the most advantageous coating option due to their comparatively small thickness and measured damage thresholds above 1 J/cm2@8ps.