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Effect of Resin Cure on the Stability of High-Quality Replicated Composite Mirror Surfaces


The development of lightweight optical mirrors is necessary for the next generation of large, space-borne telescopes. There is increasing interest in replicated polymer-based composite mirrors due to significant reductions in areal density and cost over conventional polished glass mirrors. However, space telescopes have stringent optical requirements in addition to cost and weight. Although the quality of replicated mirrors have significantly improved over the last decade, limited data exists on the long-term stability where nanometer-scale dimensional accuracy is required. This thesis presents an analysis of the stability of high-quality (RMS ~ λ/20) replicated optics as a function of resin cure state to provide a fundamental understanding of factors contributing to polymer dimensional changes on the nanometer-scale. A UV-curable epoxy was used to identify critical processing parameters and correlate to the optical stability of replicated mirrors in thermal and hygroscopic environments.

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