Smart Focal Planes

The participants will:

• Evaluate, develop and prototype of technologies for Smart Focal Planes
• Build up and strengthen a network of expertise in Europe, and encourage mobility between partners
• Engage European Industry in the development of technologies which can be batch produced to enable future complex instruments to be built economically
• Enable these technologies to be developed to the stage where they can be considered for the next generation of telescopes

The participants will work on three main areas of Smart Focal Plane research: Integral field spectroscopy using image slicers; beam manipulators; and multi-slit units including Micro Opto Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS).

Integral Field Units: The participants will investigate Integral Field Units (IFUs) based on image slicers and fibre bundles, which are required to build spectrometers having relatively large fields of view (1 arcmin square) for current and future generations of telescopes. The participants aim to industrialise these device to meet the challenges of complex, modular instruments.

Sparse Field sampling devices – Multiple Integral Field Units: The participants will explore and prototype technologies to direct light from small fields within the telescope focal plane to multiple IFUs. These technologies will include cryogenic deployable pick-off arms, robotic fibre positioners, tiltable mirrors, and piezo actuated robotic devices.

Multi Slit Units and MOEMS: The participants will investigate techniques for manufacturing reconfigurable focal plane masks in cryogenic near infrared spectrometers. Options include inserting a slit mask into the focal plane via an intermediate cryostat and air lock or developing ‘programmable’ slit masks that can be reconfigured remotely whilst in place in the cryostat. The participants will explore the feasibility of MOEMS as a reliable solution for the next generation of optical and Near Infra-red multi-object spectrographs.

The Chair of the Smart Focal Planes Joint Research Activity is C Cunningham (IoA): crc @

Please follow the following link for the web-based collaboration area for the Smart Focal Planes Joint Research Activity:

For a PDF file copy of C Cunningham's presentation of this Research Activity to the OPTICON I3 Board meeting in Ghent 1 - 2 April 2004, click here:

JRA5: Smart Focal Planes