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Astrophotonics: photonic integrated circuits for astronomical instrumentation

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posted on 2023-02-15, 17:01 authored by Martin M. Roth, Kalaga Madhav, Andreas Stoll, Daniel Bodenmueller, Aline Dinkelaker, Aashia Rahman, Eloy Hernandez, Alan Guenther, Stella Vjesnica
Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) are best known for their important role in the telecommunication sector, e.g. high speed communication devices in data centers. However, PIC also hold the promise for innovation in sectors like life science, medicine, sensing, automotive etc. The past two decades have seen efforts of utilizing PIC to enhance the performance of instrumentation for astronomical telescopes, perhaps the most spectacular example being the integrated optics beam combiner for the interferometer GRAVITY at the ESO Very Large Telescope. This instrument has enabled observations of the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way at unprecedented angular resolution, eventually leading to the Nobel Price for Physics in 2020. Several groups worldwide are actively engaged in the emerging field of astrophotonics research, amongst them the innoFSPEC Center in Potsdam, Germany. We present results for a number of applications developed at innoFSPEC, notably PIC for integrated photonic spectrographs on the basis of arrayed waveguide gratings and the PAWS demonstrator (Potsdam Arrayed Waveguide Spectrograph), PIC-based ring resonators in astronomical frequency combs for precision wavelength calibration, discrete beam combiners (DBC) for large astronomical interferometers, as well as aperiodic fiber Bragg gratings for complex astronomical filters and their possible derivatives in PIC.

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