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 Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona together form one of the world’s leading astronomy research organizations. Steward Observatory’s Mirror Laboratory is the largest facility in the world for manufacture of astronomical mirrors, and is located on the University campus in Tucson. The Lab was founded in 1980 by REhnu’s CTO Roger Angel. Steward Observatory’s Solar Lab, started in 2007 by Roger Angel, is uniquely positioned to develop solar concentrator systems, building on a breadth of engineering and manufacturing experience developed during 30 years of telescope innovation. Key members of the Solar Lab team are engineers Warren Davison and Blain Olbert (see Team), and Tom Connors. Funds for the University’s Solar Lab program have been received from:

* The U.S. Department of Energy

* Science Foundation Arizona, through the Arizona Solar Technology Initiative

* Research Corporation Technologies, through the Cottrell Foundation

* Technology Research Initiative Fund, University of Arizona

* Research Corporation for Science Advancement

* The Marshall Foundation

Shown 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 University of Arizona. Its mirrors were manufactured at the Mirror Lab by a unique process which starts by melting 20 tons of borosilicate glass into a one-piece substrate with internal honeycomb structure (National Geographic article). The paraboloidal surface for these mirrors is pre-formed by spinning the liquid glass.

The photo on the right shows an 8.4 m mirror being polished at the Mirror Lab, the first of seven similar mirrors for the 25 m diameter Giant Magellan Telescope. The Mirror Lab is also making the 8.4 m primary/tertiary mirror for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a unique wide-field survey telescope recently ranked by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as the top priority project for ground-based astronomy in the next decade.