German photonics firm Toptica has signed an updated contract with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) for the production of four more lasers to be used in the adaptive optics system of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
The contract is an extension of a development and deployment contract for ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and will be executed by Toptica Projects, a recently started Toptica spin-off.
These unique guide star laser systems have been extensively tested at one of the major ESO telescopes in Paranal, Chile for more than two years. They will be a key component of the new E-ELT telescope and will help to achieve an unprecedented spatial resolution for optical/infrared groundbased telescopes. The E-ELT is expected to see first light in 2024.
Toptica has been involved in the development of diode-laser based fiberamplified guide star laser systems at 589nm (sodium resonance) for astronomical applications over the last 10 years. Recently, together with its partner MPB Communications, Toptica was presented with a prestigious Berthold-Leibinger Innovation Award. The team also received the Forman-OSA Award last year.
Over the past years, further large telescope sites have adopted the guide star laser technology under the brand name 'SodiumStar 20/2' into their existing astronomy facilities. Other areas of interest for SodiumStar lasers are in satellite tracking and lidar. This well-established laser technology of fixed single frequency or tuneable single frequency with output powers of tens of Watts can also be transferred to other wavelengths in the range from 520nm to 640nm.
For more information see also the official press release of ESO: https://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann17087/