Challenges in optics for Extremely Large Telescope instrumentation

P. Spanò, F. M. Zerbi, C. J. Norrie, C. R. Cunningham, K. G. Strassmeier, A. Bianco, P. A. Blanche, M. Bougoin, M. Ghigo, P. Hartmann, L. Zago, E. Atad-Ettedgui, B. Delabre, H. Dekker, M. Melozzi, B. Snÿders, R. Takke, D. D. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


We describe and summarize the optical challenges for future instrumentation for Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs). Knowing the complex instrumental requirements is crucial for the successful design of 30-60 m aperture telescopes. After all, the success of ELTs will heavily rely on its instrumentation and this, in turn, will depend on the ability to produce large and ultra-precise optical components like light-weight mirrors, aspheric lenses, segmented filters, and large gratings. New materials and manufacturing processes are currently under study, both at research institutes and in industry. In the present paper, we report on its progress with particular emphasize on volume-phase-holographic gratings, photochromic materials, sintered silicon-carbide mirrors, ion-beam figuring, ultra-precision surfaces, and free-form optics. All are promising technologies opening new degrees of freedom to optical designers. New optronic-mechanical systems will enable efficient use of the very large focal planes. We also provide exploratory descriptions of "old" and "new" optical technologies together with suggestions to instrument designers to overcome some of the challenges placed by ELT instrumentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-673
Number of pages25
JournalAstronomische Nachrichten
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 21 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • ELTs
  • Gratings
  • New materials
  • Optics
  • Spectrographs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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  • Cite this

    Spanò, P., Zerbi, F. M., Norrie, C. J., Cunningham, C. R., Strassmeier, K. G., Bianco, A., Blanche, P. A., Bougoin, M., Ghigo, M., Hartmann, P., Zago, L., Atad-Ettedgui, E., Delabre, B., Dekker, H., Melozzi, M., Snÿders, B., Takke, R., & Walker, D. D. (2006). Challenges in optics for Extremely Large Telescope instrumentation. Astronomische Nachrichten, 327(7), 649-673.