Dominic F Sanchez

UC Santa Cruz

“Preliminary on-sky demonstration of a 3-sided reflective pyramid wavefront sensor with Shane AO”

The pyramid wavefront sensor (PWFS) is a prime candidate to be implemented into the next generation of extremely large telescopes for low order wavefront sensing. There are a few PWFS designs, however, they are all transmissive and must be optimized for their intended wavefront sensing wavelength. Furthermore, fabricating these four-sided glass prisms is difficult and more expensive, which has led to the development of the double-roof PWFS configuration. To mitigate these challenges, we propose a three-sided reflective pyramid wavefront sensor (3-RPWFS) as a possible alternative to existing PWFS designs. We present the first on-sky demonstration of a 3-RPWFS using the Shane Telescope’s adaptive optics system (ShaneAO) in Lick Observatory. To implement the R-PWFS on ShaneAO we developed a hybrid transmissive/reflective design to fit in the available space. On-sky closed loop operation is performed using natural guide stars for a performance comparison with the current Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor (SHWFS) in ShaneAO. The on-sky closed loop results demonstrate proof of concept, and this sensor will be further optimized to effectively assess performance.


My research focuses on developing astronomical instrumentation to directly image exoplanets and characterize their atmospheres in order determine their chemical composition and habitability. Adaptive optics systems with highly sensitive wavefront sensors are needed to reach the resolutions required to directly image exoplanets for the next generation of extremely large telescopes. My team and I have developed a pyramid wavefront sensor that alleviates fabrication difficulties and eliminates wavelength dependent errors associated with previous pyramid wavefront sensor designs.

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