Advanced Optical Systems Center (CSOA)

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    The Advanced Optical Systems Center (CSOA) is an unique infrastructure in Spain for the manufacture of high quality optical elements. This cutting-edge technology is a rising value and, with the necessary requirements in Astrophysics, it is available to very few centers in the world.

    It is also of interest to other sectors, such as the laser, optoelectronic or solar industry, which require very demanding optical finishes or coatings. Until now, Spanish companies and institutions had to turn to foreign suppliers, which implies an enormous cost and reduces competitiveness and the ability to participate in international collaborations. Consequently, this initiative represents a leap of enormous relevance to place Spain at the world forefront of the production and innovation sectors of optical components.


    Scientific objectives

        - Optics for large telescopes. Large telescopes require the manufacture of dozens of complex mirrors with extremely high standards of surface refinement.
        - Instrumentation for Telescopes: CSOA excels in the production of complex optical elements, such as filters, dichroics, sensors and optical and infrared components, with high requirements for shape and surface roughness.
        - Lightening of mirrors. CSOA develops innovative techniques for ultra-light mirrors through additive manufacturing and surface replication and generation techniques.
        - Training and entrepreneurship. In addition to being a manufacturing centre, CSOA trains young researchers and engineers to develop innovative optical solutions.
        - Precision optics. Serving crucial needs in key sectors such as the laser industry, renewable energy, sunlight harvesting and medicine, CSOA ensures quality scientific and technological return.


    Facilities and equipment

    The CSOA is a comprehensive facility, divided into three interconnected laboratories that drive innovation and excellence in precision optics, CSOA 0.5, CSOA 1.5 and a precision metrology laboratory. Each of these labs is focused on one type of work.
    The CSOA 0.5 laboratory, located at the IAC headquarters in La Laguna, concentrates on the manufacture of optical elements and telescopes up to 500 mm in diameter. From part generation and cutting to polishing and coating, each crucial stage is carried out with precision and the experience of a highly skilled team.
    CSOA 1.5 is a laboratory dedicated to the polishing and coating of larger optical elements, reaching diameters of up to 1.5 metres. It is located in one of IACTEC's so-called clean rooms.
    The metrology laboratory is responsible for the verification and validation of the quality of the finish of the optical elements and plays an essential role in the production chain.


    Optical elements for telescopes and instrumentation

    Telescopes currently in operation, such as the Gran Telescopio de Canarias, or the James Webb Telescope, as well as future large telescopes, such as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) or the New Robotic Telescope (NRT), are based on segmented configurations formed by hexagons for the primary mirror. The CSOA is essential to support these structures, enabling the IAC and the Spanish astronomical community with high-precision technologies and rigorous finishing. This reinforces the national capacity to participate in challenging astronomical projects.

    In addition, this facility has a significant impact by strengthening the participation of the IAC and the Spanish astrophysics community in the creation and development of instrumentation for large telescopes that require high precision in the collection, direction and transmission of the captured light, optimising its analysis according to the research objectives.

    NRT: The first telescope with optics manufactured entirely by CSOA

    The exciting New Robotic Telescope (NRT) project marks a milestone in the history of the IAC and CSOA as the first segmented telescope to carry out all stages of optical manufacturing, from generation and cutting to coating and metrology. Designed to capture fast-evolving astronomical phenomena, the NRT not only represents a revolution in the exploration of the cosmos, but also reinforces the IAC's position as a leader in the production of excellent optical components by setting new standards in telescope design. This project reflects CSOA's dedication to innovation, positioning it as an expert in this new technological frontier that will then benefit future projects and collaborations.


    Beyond the stars

    In addition to telescope optics and astrophysical instrumentation, the advanced technology developed by CSOA has a broad scope in a variety of research fields and industrial applications. These precision manufacturing and optical control capabilities not only benefit astronomy, but also find applications in areas such as medical technology, the laser industry, optoelectronics, the solar industry and other research areas.

    CSOA is in a unique position to establish interdisciplinary collaborations with research projects in these and other fields. These collaborations provide an opportunity for scientific and technological return that produces mutual benefit.


    Principal investigator
    Co Principal investigator
    Project manager


    Machinery and Equipment

    Design and Manufacture of Segmented Mirrors

    Related publications

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    Related talks

    • The New Robotic Telescope and the Center for Advanced Optics
      The New Robotic Telescope (NRT) and the Center for Optics (CSOA) are two of the IAC's most ambitious technology initiatives for the next few years. On the one hand, NRT will be the most powerful robotic telescope in the world allowing the Spanish astrophysics community to play a leading role in the field of time domain astrophysics, while CSOA will
      Carlos Manuel
      Gutiérrez de La Cruz
      11 Jun 2021 - 15:50 Europe/London

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