UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment Places Order for Optical Surfaces Lenses

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KENLEY, England, Sept. 17, 2018 — Optical component and systems developer Optical Surfaces Ltd. has received an order from the U.K.'s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for twelve ultrafast-focusing, 370-mm-diameter aspheric lenses for its Orion petawatt laser research facility.

The Orion laser facility is used to conduct research into high-energy-density physics phenomena, which occur at the heart of a nuclear explosion or the interior of a star. Orion is used to generate matter many times denser than solid, similar to that found at the center of a giant planet such as Jupiter. At temperatures in excess of 10 million degrees, Orion can replicate conditions found at the center of the sun. These phenomena cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

The order is a repeat for the key focusing elements supplied by Optical Surfaces Ltd. to AWE in 2008. Replacement of the original lenses is required because coatings and lens material gets damaged over time due to the very high energy density of the Orion laser.

“We are very pleased to again be selected by AWE to supply the replacement of fast-focusing aspheric lenses that lie at the heart of their Orion petawatt laser facility,” said Aris Kouris, sales director at Optical Surfaces. “The greatest challenge in producing these ultrasmooth optics relates mostly with the high asphericity of the lenses, arising from the short focal length required. The short focal length not only enables AWE to use a relatively compact vacuum chamber for its experiments but also to achieve a very high energy density at the point of focus. This high asphericity also imposes an additional difficulty in controlling the demanding requirements associated with the lens wavefront gradients specification.”

AWE is responsible for the design, manufacture, and support of warheads for the U.K.’s nuclear weapons.

Published: September 2018
BusinessOptical SurfacesAtomic Weapons EstablishmentpartnershipsOpticsnuclearEuropeEuro News

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