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  • Zeeko to Make Telescope Tool
Dec 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Dec. 17, 2007 -- Zeeko Ltd. was awarded a $5 million contract to develop a component to be used on the world's largest telescope. The component, a polishing machine, will be used to finish the mirrors for the European Southern Observatory's Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project. The observatory is a proposed member to operate a new generation of astronomical telescopes, envisioned to dwarf the world's largest telescopes.

zeeko.jpgZeeko, a North American spinoff of UK-based Zeeko Ltd., has headquarters at Purdue Research Park, a business incubator complex affiliated with Purdue University. Zeeko develops technologies for controlling the form and texture of freeform engineering surfaces.

Zeeko Ltd., along with partners Brashear, OpTIC Technium, TNO and Qioptiq, was awarded the contract to produce seven prototype mirror segments. The undertaking will require the design and construction of a new type of polishing machine capable of processing the large mirrors.

The new-generation telescope will collect light from distant galaxies using a mirror comprised of 906 hexagonal segments, each 1.4 m (4.6 ft) across. The entire mirror will span 42 m (137 ft), greater than the wingspan of a Boeing 707 aircraft.

"This massive telescope will allow the study of planets around other stars and super-massive black holes," said John Kelchner, director of research for Zeeko. "It also can provide important clues to the history of the universe's beginning with the very first galaxies and stars. This project will require a revolution in optical fabrication in order to produce mirrors in both the quality and quantity needed."

The Zeeko polishing machine uses a small robotic tool under computer control. This tool can remove material from a surface according to a very precise prescription, he said.

The use of a random tool path is one aspect of the project that Zeeko is developing. Computer-controlled polishing tools usually move across the surface in a raster or spiral motion, creating a periodic surface texture that can cause light to be scattered off the mirrors in one direction. The random tool path will polish the mirror surface without leaving periodic polishing artifacts. The technique was developed at Zeeko Technologies, and a patent is pending from Zeeko.

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
An afocal optical device made up of lenses or mirrors, usually with a magnification greater than unity, that renders distant objects more distinct, by enlarging their images on the retina.
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