UCL Astrophysics Group


Astronomical Instrumentation

This is the homepage of the Astrophysics Instrumentation Group or Optical Science Laboratory (OSL).

Academic Staff: Prof. Peter Doel and Prof. Giorgio Savini.

A list of research staff and research students can be found on the Astrophysics People page.

The group's research focuses on the development of novel instrumentation for astronomy and industry. 

Instrumentation research and development within the astronomy group has several strands, covering topics such as:

  • devising high precision polishing techniques for optical mirrors for large terrestrial telescopes;
  • next generation precision alignment techniques for optical mounting of large diameter optical lenses;
  • studies on light-weight telescopes based on CFRP optics fabrication techniques
  • optical design and modelling of instruments and telescopes;
  • design and fabrication of novel quasi-optical components for the far-infrared and mm-wave experiments;
  • mechanical and thermal modelling of optical instruments for space-based payloads;
  • Infrared materials charaacterization (optical)
  • study and modelling of future far-infrared space interferometry missions and techniques;

Student projects are often advertised in any of the above topics.

Past and Current Collaborations of the OSL include:

FermiLab, NASA/Goddard, ESA/ESTEC, Cardiff University, Rutherford Appleton Labs (STFC), UK-ATC and University of Edinburgh (STFC), Oxford Unviersity, University of Leeds, Glyndwr University, University of Durham, Surrey Satellites, University of Lethbridge (Canada), LAM (Laboratoire Astrophysique Marseille), IAPS/INAF (Rome).

OSL have also been involved in the design and fabrication of cameras for the Dark Energy Survey instrument on the 4-m Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo in Chile and continue to be involved in the DESI spectroscopic instrument.

In the field of infrared space missions we have been involved in the design and calibration of the Herschel SPIRE far-infrared and sub-millimetre spectrometer and the Planck cosmic background survey mission as well as many ground-based and balloon-borne far infrared polarimeters and spectrometers.

In addition we are also involved in the design and modelling of payloads for Low Earth Orbit for both Exoplanet Spectroscopy (TWINKLE) and climate change Molecular limb-sounding (LOCUS).