Astronomers have been using adaptive optics since about 1990 to "untwinkle the stars" – to sharpen stellar images degraded by atmospheric turbulence. Some high-end military applications have been using the technology for even longer. (See how AO works).
Many medical and industrial applications could also benefit from these methods.
The snag is that the astronomical adaptive optics technologies have an astronomical cost – between one and ten million pounds for each of these "big science", one-off systems. The price has to come down a thousand-fold to open up the emerging industrial markets and applications. What's more, "all-in-one" adaptive optics systems, not bare optical devices, are needed, to allow optical engineers to build in adaptive optics capability without needing specialist expertise in this subject.
That's where Starpoint comes in.
Its industry-leading Quicksilver™ board-level adaptive optics systems combine the latest developments in low-cost, MEMS-based adaptive mirrors with ultra-sensitive, electron multiplying CCD detectors. They also add embedded, fully programmable signal processing capability alongside these devices, to offer an all-in-one adaptive optics system for the price of a good oscilloscope.
Quicksilver™ takes the most exciting innovations in device-level technologies, from many potential sources, and combines them to provide leading levels of system integration. With these products, Starpoint stands front and centre in low cost adaptive optics technology.
Quicksilver™ prototype units are with test sites now.
>> Ask Starpoint about Quicksilver™.
A detailed overview of the technical and commercial opportunities for low cost adaptive optics is given in the report
Industrial and Medical Applications for Adaptive Optics
Prof. A. Greenaway, Heriot-Watt University, & Dr. J. Burnett, QinetiQ, Feb. 2004.
A brochure summarising the contents of this report is available, and an optics.org news item, 'Adaptive optics aims for mass market' presents a brief summary.
A series of newsletters published by the University of California's Centre for Adaptive Optics also provides an up-to-date look at developments in this field.
The abstracts of papers presented at the
4th International Conference on Adaptive Optics for Industry and Medicine
(Münster, 2003) give a flavour of the work being done around the world.
These biennial conferences serve as a forum for researchers in industrial adaptive optics.
The book is available here
© 2004–2006 Starpoint Adaptive Optics Limited