Abstract

Bulk wide-field Michelson interferometers are very useful for high precision applications in remote sensing and astronomy. A stable monolithic Michelson interferometer is a key element in high precision radial velocity (RV) measurements for extrasolar planets searching and studies. Thermal stress analysis shows that matching coefficients of thermal expansion (CTEs) is a critical requirement for ensuring interferometer stability. This requirement leads to a novel design using BK7 and LAK7 materials, such that the monolithic interferometer is free from thermal distortion. The processes of design, fabrication, and testing of interferometers are described in detail. In performance evaluations, the field angle is typically 23.8° and thermal sensitivity is typically 2.6×106/°C near 550nm, which corresponds to 800m/s/°C in the RV scale. Low-cost interferometer products have been commissioned in multiple RV instruments, and they are producing high stability performance over long term operations.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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