Laboratory demonstration of high-contrast imaging at inner working angles 2 λ/D and better

Ruslan Belikov, Eugene Pluzhnik, Fred C. Witteborn, Thomas P. Greene, Dana H. Lynch, Peter T. Zell, Olivier Guyon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

23 Scopus citations


Coronagraph technology is advancing and promises to enable direct imaging and spectral characterization of extrasolar Earth-like planets in the 2020 decade with a telescope as small as 1.5m. A small Explorer-sized telescope can also be launched in the 2010 decade capable of seeing debris disks as dim as tens of zodis and potentially a few large planets. The Phase Induced Amplitude Apodization (PIAA) coronagraph makes such aggressive performance possible, providing high throughput and high contrast close to the diffraction limit. We report on the latest results from a testbed at NASA Ames that is focused on developing and testing the PIAA coronagraph. This laboratory facility was built in 2008 and is designed to be flexible, operated in an actively thermally stabilized air environment, and to complement collaborative efforts at NASA JPL's High Contrast Imaging Testbed. For our wavefront control we are using small Micro-Electro- Mechanical-System deformable mirrors (MEMS DMs), which promise to reduce the size of the beam and overall instrument, a consideration that becomes very important for small telescopes. We describe our lab progress and results, which include (as of August 2011): the demonstration of 1.9x10 -8 average raw contrast in a dark zone from 2.0 - 3.4 λ/D and of 1.2x10-6 contrast from 1.5-2.0 λ/D (in monochromatic light); the testing of the next-generation reflective PIAA mirror set built by Tinsley and designed for broadband; and finally, discuss our most important past limiting factors as well as expected future ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V
StatePublished - 2011
EventTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 23 2011Aug 24 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • PIAA
  • coronagraph
  • extrasolar planet
  • high contrast
  • wavefront control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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