Astrophotonics aims to adapt photonic technology to astronomy, leveraging the billions already invested by the telecommunication industry. This will further our understanding of origin of the universe and ourselves by devising new instruments to address such questions as the determination of the equation of state of the universe; the history of our own and nearby galaxies via “galactic archaeology” of individual stars and the detection of earth-like planets. This requires larger telescopes (with apertures 10-20 the area of current ones) and bigger instruments whose size and complexity demands the application of photonic technology. Examples of new nstrument capabilities currently under study include: the suppression of background emission from our own atmosphere using Bragg gratings inscribed on networks of photonic crystal fibres; the miniaturisation of spectrographs using networks of inscribed waveguides and their integration with individual fibres for highly-multiplexed spectroscopy; and the simplification and enhancement of long-baseline optical/infrared interferometry.
For this purpose, we have formed the AstroPhotonica Europa partnership to coordinate our work and provide the intellectual framework in which these bold ideas can be developed and synergies with other fields, such as biomedical science, explored. We expect that this knowledge transfer will be bi-directional with benefits flowing back to industry.
AstroPhotonica Europa is delighted to receive initial funding from the OPTICON Integrated Infrastructure Initiative via the Seventh Framework programme of the European Union. The coordinator is Jeremy Allington-Smith.
Summary of AstroPhotonica Europa (2008 SPIE paper)
Paper on photonic spectrographs (submitted to MNRAS 2009)