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Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 138, 135-145

Integrated optics for astronomical interferometry

I. Concept and astronomical applications

F. Malbet1 - P. Kern1 - I. Schanen-Duport2 - J.-P. Berger1 - K. Rousselet-Perraut1 - P. Benech2

Send offprint request: F. Malbet

Correspondence to:

1 - Laboratoire d'Astrophysique UMR CNRS/UJF 5571, Observatoire de Grenoble, BP. 53, F-38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
2 - Laboratoire d'Électromagnétisme Microondes et Optoélectronique UMR CNRS/INPG/UJF 5530, BP. 257, F-38016 Grenoble Cedex 1, France

Received February 25; accepted May 12, 1999


We propose a new instrumental concept for long-baseline optical single-mode interferometry using integrated optics which were developed for telecommunication. Visible and infrared multi-aperture interferometry requires many optical functions (spatial filtering, beam combination, photometric calibration, polarization control) to detect astronomical signals at very high angular resolution. Since the 80's, integrated optics on planar substrate have become available for telecommunication applications with multiple optical functions like power dividing, coupling, multiplexing, etc. We present the concept of an optical/infrared interferometric instrument based on this new technology. The main advantage is to provide an interferometric combination unit on a single optical chip. Integrated optics are compact, provide stability, low sensitivity to external constrains like temperature, pressure or mechanical stresses, no optical alignment except for coupling, simplicity and intrinsic polarization control. The integrated optics devices are inexpensive compared to devices that have the same functionalities in bulk optics. We think integrated optics will fundamentally change single-mode interferometry. Integrated optics devices are in particular well-suited for interferometric combination of numerous beams to achieve aperture synthesis imaging or for space-based interferometers where stability and a minimum of optical alignments are wished.

Key words: instrumentation: interferometers

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