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Lightweight Deformable Mirrors for Future Space Telescopes


Patterson, Keith D. (2014) Lightweight Deformable Mirrors for Future Space Telescopes. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/S7JS-A837.


This thesis presents a concept for ultra-lightweight deformable mirrors based on a thin substrate of optical surface quality coated with continuous active piezopolymer layers that provide modes of actuation and shape correction. This concept eliminates any kind of stiff backing structure for the mirror surface and exploits micro-fabrication technologies to provide a tight integration of the active materials into the mirror structure, to avoid actuator print-through effects. Proof-of-concept, 10-cm-diameter mirrors with a low areal density of about 0.5 kg/m² have been designed, built and tested to measure their shape-correction performance and verify the models used for design. The low cost manufacturing scheme uses replication techniques, and strives for minimizing residual stresses that deviate the optical figure from the master mandrel. It does not require precision tolerancing, is lightweight, and is therefore potentially scalable to larger diameters for use in large, modular space telescopes. Other potential applications for such a laminate could include ground-based mirrors for solar energy collection, adaptive optics for atmospheric turbulence, laser communications, and other shape control applications.

The immediate application for these mirrors is for the Autonomous Assembly and Reconfiguration of a Space Telescope (AAReST) mission, which is a university mission under development by Caltech, the University of Surrey, and JPL. The design concept, fabrication methodology, material behaviors and measurements, mirror modeling, mounting and control electronics design, shape control experiments, predictive performance analysis, and remaining challenges are presented herein. The experiments have validated numerical models of the mirror, and the mirror models have been used within a model of the telescope in order to predict the optical performance. A demonstration of this mirror concept, along with other new telescope technologies, is planned to take place during the AAReST mission.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:deformable mirrors, space telescopes, active optics, piezoelectric polymers
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Awards:Ernest E. Sechler Memorial Award in Aeronautics, 2014
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Thesis Committee:
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami (chair)
  • Greer, Julia R.
  • Kochmann, Dennis M.
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Defense Date:12 December 2013
Non-Caltech Author Email:keith.douglass.patterson (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:12182013-094108778
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8043
Deposited By: Keith Patterson
Deposited On:14 Jan 2014 17:30
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:03

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