Optical Surfaces has supplied an ultra high precision off-axis parabolic mirror to the Central Laser Facility at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Didcot, UK.
The ultra smooth mirror will form a crucial focusing element in RAL's ongoing experimentation using the Vulcan Nd:Glass High Energy Laser.
Trevor Winstone, Operations Manager for the Vulcan Laser at RAL commented "The F/15 off-axis parabola will be used for experiments that require long Rayleigh focal length such as electron acceleration experiments". The advance in laser technology to ultra-high intense (>1018Wcm-2) short-pulse (<1ps) lasers has made it possible to study laser-plasma interactions at ultra-high intensities. Applications include particle accelerators, inertial confinement fusion schemes and also biological and medical technologies. He added "We selected Optical Surfaces Ltd to supply this precison focusing optic because of their long proven track record in manufacturing and supplying high quality, demanding optics to ultra high power laser facilities around the world".
Using proprietary production techniques - Optical Surfaces’ highly experienced and skilled production team produced the 320mm diameter off-axis parabolic mirror with a surface accuracy of better than lambda/8 P-V, surface gradient of better than lambda/20 P-V and smoothness of 20/10 scratch/dig. The excellent surface quality achieved during manufacturing together with the exceptional high reflectivity coatings will enable RAL researchers to achieve the high optical performance and efficiency required by their ground breaking experiments. The off-axis mirror was manufactured in ClearCeram HS and coated using a special high performance coating to produce high reflectivity (R>99%) at 1053 and 527nm.
Dr Aris Kouris of Optical Surfaces Ltd. commented “ The most demanding part of the producing this demanding optic was to achieve the surface gradients which required an iterative process in order to achieve the required smoothness. To achieve lambda/20 P-V surface gradients specification using an iterative process added a significant amount of handling during the manufacturing that increased the risks for markings. Fortunately our skilled craftsmen are highly experienced in handling optics and maintaining a very high surface quality “.
The Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) is one of the world’s leading laser facilities providing scientists from the UK and Europe with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. The CLF’s wide ranging applications include experiments in physics, chemistry and biology, accelerating subatomic particles to high energies, probing chemical reactions on the shortest timescales and studying biochemical and biophysical process critical to life itself.
Optical Surfaces Ltd has been producing optical components, mounted optical components and systems for more than 50 years and is now accepted as one of the world's leading manufacturers of high-precision optics and optical systems. The company's ISO 9001-2008 approved manufacturing workshops and test facilities are deep underground in a series of tunnels excavated in solid chalk where temperature remains constant and vibration is practically non-existent. With such stable conditions testing, particularly with long path lengths, becomes quantifiable and reliable. Working with these natural advantages is a highly skilled team of craftsmen with a commitment to excellence in both product quality and customer service.