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Research group | Photonic Devices for Space Applications

Setup and characterization of miniaturized laser resonators in the lab. Photo: Thomas Damm/QUEST

The research group “Photonic Devices for Space Applications” is engaged in the development of photonic components for use in space, including optical assemblies such as pulsed or continuous-wave lasers and amplifiers. To ensure their practicability for space applications, these devices must be very compact and lightweight on the one hand, but on the other hand must be able to withstand the harsh environmental conditions in terms of large temperature differences, mechanical loads and ionizing radiation.

Important contributions to the developmental work are the design, simulation, and testing of the opto-mechanical components and assemblies. Simulation is necessary to ensure, prior to realization of the mechanics that the design works well in spite of the applied loads. Environmental tests like vibration tests, thermal vacuum tests and radiation tests are performed to verify experimentally the functionality of the optical device in a simulated space environment. A thermal vacuum chamber system is being planned and realized to provide the possibility of carrying out thermal tests of our own within QUEST, and testing procedures will be established. 

Furthermore, process development related to the space-suitable and contamination-free integration of optical assemblies as well as sealing and joining techniques for the fabrication of hermetically tight, rugged housings for optical systems forms part of the group’s activities.