Technology Heritage

REhnu’s advanced CPV technology has been developed at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, building on a heritage of designing and manufacturing large astronomical telescopes. The Steward Observatory team is uniquely positioned to develop solar concentrator systems, building on a breadth of engineering experience developed during 30 years of telescope innovation.

Above is the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), the largest telescope in the world, on a 10,500' peak in Arizona. Its unique design, with two giant 8.4 m diameter reflectors on a single tracking mount, originated at the U of A. The LBT’s mirrors and their steel supports were made on the University campus in the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory, the largest facility in the world for manufacture of astronomical mirrors. The Lab was founded in 1980 by REhnu’s CEO Roger Angel, and is directed now by Angel and REhnu Board Member Peter Strittmatter, who also directs the Observatory.

The Lab’s unique manufacturing process starts by melting 10 to 20 tons of borosilicate glass into a one-piece substrate with an internal honeycomb structure (National Geographic article). The paraboloidal surface is formed first by spinning the liquid glass. After cooling, the glass surface is ground and polished, guided by precision laser metrology, and finally coated with aluminum.

Shown on the left is the first of seven 8.4 m mirrors now being made at the Mirror Lab for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The GMT is one of three giant international telescopes planned for the next decade, and the first to start construction.