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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Claire E Max
  • (831) 459-5592
  • Christopher W Le Maistre
Award Date:01/20/2000
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 25,065,765
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 38,255,399
  • FY 2000=$6,573,095
  • FY 2008=$3,320,000
  • FY 2001=$1,724,213
  • FY 2004=$3,930,456
  • FY 2006=$4,000,000
  • FY 2010=$18,070
  • FY 2002=$4,033,775
  • FY 2003=$3,999,790
  • FY 2007=$4,000,000
  • FY 2009=$2,656,000
  • FY 2005=$4,000,000
Start Date:11/01/1999
End Date:04/30/2010
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.049
Primary Program Source:490100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Center for Adaptive Optics
Federal Award ID Number:9876783
DUNS ID:125084723
Parent DUNS ID:071549000
Program:STC Integrative Partnrshps Adm
Program Officer:
  • Nigel Sharp
  • (703) 292-4905

Awardee Location

Street:1156 High Street
City:Santa Cruz
County:Santa Cruz
Awardee Cong. District:20

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of California-Santa Cruz
Street:1156 High Street
City:Santa Cruz
County:Santa Cruz
Cong. District:20

Abstract at Time of Award

Center for Adaptive Optics The University of California at Santa Cruz ABSTRACT Adaptive optics is a method for removing the blurring of images caused by changing distortions within optical systems. Turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere causes blurring of astronomical images. In an analogous manner internal imperfections and fluids in the eye cause blurring of images striking the retina. The use of adaptive optics allows groundbased telescopes to see as clearly as if they were in space, and these techniques, when used to look at the retina of the human eye, dramatically sharpens images of the retina. Although adaptive optics was suggested for astronomy in the 1950s, only today are the requisite technologies (optics, computers, lasers) mature enough for adaptive optics to make an important impact on astronomy and vision science. Adaptive optics for astronomy on large telescopes promises a spectacular improvement in resolution, by factors of 10 to 30. Large ground-based telescopes using adaptive optics can even exceed the performance of the Hubble Space Telescope and at much lower cost. Adaptive optics for vision science promises to correct the aberrations of the eye and to provide a powerful tool for understanding the structure and development of cones and rods in the living human retina. It also holds the promise of diagnosing tiny retinal defects before they become large enough to threaten our a person's vision. Adaptive optics systems require the marriage of several very advanced technologies--precision optics, wavefront sensors, deformable mirrors, and lasers--all tied together by high-speed control systems. The Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) will concentrate on astronomical and vision science applications of adaptive optics and will reach out to other adaptive optics communities to share technologies. It will develop new instruments optimized for adaptive optics. Examples from astronomy include "integral-field" spectrographs that take spectra of thousands of tiny contiguous regions of the sky simultaneously (for studies of distant galaxies and proto-solar-systems), as well as coronagraphs to image very faint objects close to bright ones (for studies of black holes in galaxies and planets around nearby stars). Instruments to be developed for vision science include a confocal scanning laser opthalmoscope, which achieves high depth resolution as well as lateral resolution. This instrument will make possible high-resolution 3-D reconstruction of retinal blood vessels and of optic nerve fibers that carry signals to the brain. The CfAO will conduct a strong program in science education and outreach, with significant components in the systemic improvement of education, diversification of the trained work force, and enhancement of public scientific literacy.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Ammons, S.M., Johnson, L., Laag, E.A., Kupke, R., Gavel, D.T., Bauman, B.J., and Max, C.E. "Integrated Laboratory Demonstrations of Multi-Object Adaptive Optics on a Simulated 10 Meter Telescope at Visible Wavelengths." PASP, v.122, 2010, p.573.

Ammons, S.M., Melbourne, J., Max, C.E., Koo, D.C., and Rosario, D.J.V. ""Spatially Resolved Stellar Populations of Eight GOODS-South AGN at z" 1.", v.Astronomical Journal, 137, p.2009. View record at Web of Science

Adamkovics, M., de Pater, I., Hartung, M., and Barnes, J.W. "Evidence for Condensed-Phase Methane Enhancement Over Xanadu on Titan." Planetary and Space Science, v.57, 2009, p.1586.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Center for Adaptive Optics: Project Outcomes

Background: Adaptive optics actively compensate for changing optical distortions that cause blurred images. The Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) brought together astronomers, who use adaptive optics (AO) to correct for the effects of atmospheric turbulence, vision scientists, who were just beginning to use AO to image individual cells in the living human retina, and engineers. The Center was the key enabler for sharing of knowledge, experience, components, and algorithms between these communities. CfAO’s Education Program established cross-disciplinary education teams of graduate students and post-docs who worked closely together, and drew their advisors into strong research collaborations.

1. The CfAO Launched the New Field of Adaptive Optics to Image the Living Human Retina

In 1999 there was one AO system for retinal imaging. Today as a result of CfAO efforts, adaptive optics is employed in dozens of vision systems for a wide range of applications including flood-illuminated ophthalmoscopes, AO optical coherence tomography, AO scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, and vision testing systems. With AO one can now image individual cone photoreceptors, retinal pigment epithelial cells, ganglion cells, and nerve fiber bundles; monitor blood flow through the smallest of capillaries in the retina; and measure intrinsic retinal signals on a cellular scale. These now allow monitoring of disease progression, and testing new therapies for diseases that cause blindness. Strong communication and collaboration between CfAO astronomers and vision scientists enabled this dramatic progress.

2. The CfAO led to Major Advances in the Direct Imaging of Extrasolar Planets

Since 1995 more than 500 planets have been discovered orbiting nearby stars. Almost all were detected indirectly, e.g. via the motion of the parent star. One of the CfAO’s chief scientific goals was to use AO to directly image extrasolar planets. Direct imaging of light from the planets themselves opens discovery space to include planets similar to those of our own Solar System, and allows us to understand their physical conditions.

Ten years ago this goal was almost unimaginably distant. Cross-institutional CfAO teams developed new techniques such as Angular Differential Imaging, enhancing by a factor of 10 the ability of current AO cameras to see faint planets. The CfAO team of C. Marois and B. Macintosh obtained the first-ever image of an entire 3-planet extrasolar system. Another team led by CfAO members J. Graham and P. Kalas used the Hubble Space Telescope to image a planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut.

The CfAO brought to bear the analytic and design skills of its engineering members with the observational experience of its astronomers to develop the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) being built for the Gemini Observatory, which will be a factor of 10-100 times more sensitive than current instruments

3. Design and Preparation for Adaptive Optics on Future Extremely Large Telescopes

In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences recommended a ground-based thirty-meter-class telescope equipped with adaptive optics. Developing an AO system for such a telescope required an extension of almost every aspect of AO design and components. Today with the help of the CfAO and its partners, most of the issues have been solved. Key technologies developed include use of multiple laser guide stars to measure optical distortions via atmospheric tomography, efficient real-time computational algorithms, and AO components such as lasers and MEMS deformable mirrors.

For AO on ELTs to be credible within the astronomical community, adaptive optics and laser guide stars must come into broad use on today’s largest telescopes....

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