Thursday, 18 April: Entrepreneurship Program at Institute for Optical Sciences
Venkat Venkataramanan, Dir. Scientific Operations, IOS
The Institute for Optical Sciences at University of Toronto was started in 2005 with the mission to create a world-class academic research centre in optics. We have since evolved as a vibrant interdisciplinary academic research and a unique entrepreneurship education centre. This talk will highlight our academic focus, strong industry partnerships and entrepreneurship education program.
Knowledge gained through scientific research is hardly beneficial to the society, unless translated as products and services. In a typical academic institution like the U of T, only a small fraction of researchers are engaged in technology transfer. Researchers focused on fundamental work rarely disclose inventions or engage in industry-focused research. The society can draw immense benefits if vast trove of expertise that is cached in academia is properly harnessed.
At the IOS we work closely with the industries to identify knowledge gaps and academic researchers to proactively create appropriate knowledge that can translate to societal benefits in quick time. On the other end, we also help identify commercializable potential emerging out of fundamental research and help create new companies. Our entrepreneurship program is targeted to students (typically graduates and post-doctoral fellows) with strong physical sciences background. We educate and equip students to lead the commercialization activities, with professors staying in as technology supervisors. In addition benefiting the society through job creation, industrial growth and tax revenue, our industrial partners and start-up companies are growing into a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Venkataramanan is the Director, Scientific Operations of the Institute for Optical Sciences at the University of Toronto and the Director of Smart Sustainable Lighting Network. He heads the photometry and Solid State Lighting labs and is one of the lead investigators in the entrepreneurship education program at the IOS. Following his doctoral degree in Physics from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore he held various research and teaching positions in the UK, India, Portugal and Japan.
Venkat is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is also the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Lumentra Inc that develops nanomaterial solutions for LED applications and NVLAP/ISO 17025 accredited services to LED industry. He is the president of Canadian National Advisory Committee member of the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) and a Technical Committee member of various standards related to lighting. He is also strongly interested in science outreach and has co-hosted science talk shows in radio and television for about 4 years.
Thursday, 21 March: Basics of Balloon-Borne Telescopes
Why put a telescope on a balloon? What kinds of instruments can fly? Where do balloons fly, and why is Antarctica a good choice? When…okay, I don’t have a question for this one, but I’ll talk about future prospects, including launches in Canada. And Who: I’ll show off some of the balloon group’s recent adventures during the BLASTPol 2012-2013 flight campaign.
Thursday, 21 March: Pointing Sensors for Balloon-borne Telescopes
Natalie Gandilo, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, U of T
The best place to put a telescope is to hang it from a giant balloon, 38km above Antarctica. One small challenge of doing this, however, is figuring out which way it is pointing while it is up there. And not being able to get to it when things go wrong. I will discuss the many pointing sensors that can be used in stratospheric balloon experiments, and how I have implemented these systems for two telescopes – BLASTPol and Spider. I will also talk about how well these sensors performed in the 2010 & 2012 BLASTPol flights.
4 March: Modelling the NIR sky background for IRIS/TMT
Accurate sky background models are necessary for realistic predictions of telescope and instrument performance. However, there are significant variations to sky background measurements as well as models. Do will describe methods and challenges of modeling the sky background for the IRIS integral-field spectrograph for TMT. The model he describes currently includes OH lines, atmospheric emissivity, zodiacal light, instrument and telescope emissivity. Given that many telescopes and instruments also require background models, Do will describe a proposed effort to make publicly available the code to generate sky backgrounds.
4 March: Is the near-infrared sky background really lower in the Arctic?
Dr. Suresh Sivanandam, Dunlap Fellow
Many years ago, people published a result claiming that the NIR sky background was factors of 2-3 lower at the South Pole when compared to a mid-latitude astronomical site. This meant that something physically different was going on in the upper atmosphere above the Pole. Sivanandam and team members at the Dunlap sought to answer the question if this is true in the Arctic as well. They built a photometer for this purpose and, this year, measured the NIR sky brightness throughout the Arctic night. While in principle the construction and operation of a photometer is relatively simple, Sivanandam will talk about the challenges the team faced. He will also talk about the preliminary results from the Arctic campaign, and what they might mean.
12 February: New Instrument Development Projects for the Green Bank Telescope
Anish Roshi, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is the world’s premiere single-dish radio telescope operating at metre to millimetre wavelengths. Its enormous 100-metre-diameter collecting area, unblocked aperture and excellent surface accuracy provide unprecedented sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1 – 116 GHz operating range.
To keep up the discovery potential of the GBT, the observatory, in collaboration with college and university groups, has a vigorous development program. This program takes advantage of the latest technology and provides the user community with a constantly improving facility. In this talk, Roshi will highlight the current capabilities of the GBT and discuss two new instrument development projects: the Versatile GBT Astronomical Spectrometer (VEGAS), and the Focal L-band Array for the GBT (FLAG).
D. Anish Roshi is currently a staff scientist at NRAO Charlottesville and Green Bank. He did his doctorate from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Pune, India. Since then, he has worked as a member of the faculty at TIFR, Pune and Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, India. His primary interests are galactic interstellar medium and star formation. He has also been actively involved in radio astronomy instrumentation work. Currently, he is part of the Phased Array Feed and Spectrometer development projects at NRAO.
4 February: The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME)
Prof. Keith Vanderlinde, Dunlap Institute
The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is an ambitious new project designed to map the distribution of matter in the Universe, over half the sky and a broad swath of cosmic history.
Leveraging recent developments from from the cell phone industry (cheap, low noise amplifiers) and the huge growth in digital processing power, CHIME will be a highly efficient “digital” radio telescope, a many-antenna physically-fixed structure where beams are formed and pointed through digital processing rather than with physically steered dishes or cable delays. CHIME is composed of five 20m x 100m parabolic reflectors which focus radiation in one direction (east-west), while interferometry is used to resolve beams in the other (north-south), and earth rotation is used to sweep them across the sky.
We’ll discuss the theory, design, and progress on the myriad components which make up CHIME, to try and convince everyone of the tremendous potential of this new class of telescope.
Prof. Keith Vanderlinde is the newest faculty member to join the Dunlap Institute. He is an experimental cosmologist and long-wavelength instrumentalist. His primary research interest is large-scale structure in the Universe which he studies using the South Pole Telescope and the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment. He is also involved in a Very Long Baseline Interferometry project to study pulsar scintillation using the Algonquin Radio Observatory and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India.
21 January: Transition Edge Sensors (TES) Bolometers for the South Pole Telescope
Abigail Crites, University of Chicago
The South Pole Telescope is a 10-meter telescope designed to measure the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation. Abigail Crites will discuss the polarization-sensitive receiver, SPTpol, installed on the South Pole Telescope. In particular, she will discuss the transition edge sensor (TES) bolometer technology used in the camera.
Abigail is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. She worked on TES detectors for the SPT-SZ camera and detector testing, focal plane design, and cryogenics for the SPTpol camera for the South Pole Telescope.
3 December: Replication and Complexity: New ways of tackling familiar problems in instrumentation
Dr. Sarah Tuttle, University of Texas at Austin
Telescopes are getting larger and with that growth comes a demand for large-scale instrumentation to take advantage of that growth. Unfortunately, that often leads to instrumentation that is scaled up from our current facilities. This moves us into a regime of heavy, large, expensive parts that are difficult to manufacture. Is it possible to offload some of that cost and difficulty through replication? Can replication “trickle down” and benefit even small telescopes?
There are several approaches and technologies being developed that open up a new way of building instruments. In this discussion, Tuttle will talk about how we get the light in (image slicers and fibers) and what we do to get the data out (including astrophotonics and replicated bulk optics). She will discuss how these new tools might be optimized, flight tested and made useful for the new large-scale and space telescopes to come.
Different areas of astrophysics benefit from different approaches, and she will use VIRUS (the replicated spectrograph she is working on for HETDEX (Hobby-Eberly Dark Energy Experiment) and FIREBall (Faint Intergalactic Redshifted Emission Balloon) as examples.
Tuttle currently is leading the effort at UT to construct VIRUS, the replicated spectrograph that will measure the baryon acoustic oscillations for HETDEX. Her thesis work at Columbia included two balloon flights of FIREBALL, for which she built the fiber-fed ultraviolet spectrograph that was the primary instrument. She is interested in the processes that regulate star formation in galaxies, in particular, interactions between galaxies and the IGM.
19 November: From the Infrared Astronomical Satellite to the James Webb Space Telescope
Dr. Neil Rowlands, COM DEV
Astronomy (and astronomers) have been very effective in driving detector technology developments. When I arrived at Cornell University as a graduate student in 1985, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite had just completed its short but highly productive mission surveying the infrared sky, using 62 discrete photoconductive IR detectors. The Cornell Infrared Group was already busy with plans for the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) instrument for the next generation, infrared space telescope, which became the Spitzer Space Telescope.
The development effort for IRS involved the first long wavelength multiplexed array detectors (a 10 x 50 array), which we incorporated into instruments for the Kuiper Airborne Observatory and the 5-m Hale telescope. Twenty-five years on, driven by projects such as the James Webb Space Telescope, infrared array detectors have reached the same maturity level as CCDs, with mosaics of 2000 x 2000 element array detectors in regular use on the ground and soon in space.
This talk offers one instrumentalist’s view of these infrared detector developments for astronomy, with some detours into their impacts on earth observation, space physics, and atmospheric science along the way.
Neil Rowlands obtained his B.Sc (Engineering Physics) from the University of Alberta in 1985 and his Ph.D. (Astronomy) from Cornell University in 1991. At Cornell, he participated in the construction and use of infrared instrumentation for the Kuiper Airborne Observatory and the 5m Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar.
From 1991 to 1993, he held an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship at the Université de Montréal where he worked with an infrared camera, deploying it at the Canada France Hawaii Telescope.
From 1993 to 1995, he held an NSERC Visiting Post-doctoral fellowship at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing where he built, tested and used an airborne hyperspectral imager.
In 1995, he joined CAL Corporation (Ottawa, ON), now COM DEV, as an electro-optical engineer, developing space-borne scientific instrumentation for the space physics, atmospheric sciences and astronomy communities. He is currently a Staff Scientist at COM DEV. He has been working on the Canadian contribution to the JWST project since 1997, and is currently serving as the industrial FGS program scientist.
5 November: Arctic Update and RTI Proposals
Dr. Suresh Sivanandam and Dr. Nicholas Law, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
Sivanandam and Law described the recent installation of instrumentation at the PEARL research station on Ellesmere Island, including two wide-field cameras, a sky-brightness monitoring instrument, and a seeing-monitoring instrument. Sivanandam and Law also described recently submitted NSERC Research Tools and Instrument (RTI) grant proposals for an ultra-low surface brightness imager, a second-generation Arctic wide-field camera, and a planet-finding camera system.
25 October: Software Development for MaNGA
Dr. David Law, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO, or MaNGA, is an optical IFU survey of 10,000 nearby galaxies that will take place starting in 2014 as part of the 4th installment of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Law, a Dunlap Fellow since 2011, will discuss some of the technical hurdles presented by such a survey and the role of the Dunlap Institute in developing the software and simulations required to optimize its scientific productivity.
4 October: Collimation, alignment and focus control of the Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope
Prof. Nick Kaiser, Theoretical Astrophysics at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
Wide-field telescopes like those used in Pan-STARRS need to be collimated and aligned to very high precision in order to deliver sub-arcsecond image quality and low PSF anisotropy required by e.g. weak lensing. Errors in positioning of the large optical elements at the tens of micron level (fraction of the width of a human hair) give significant image degradation.
In the discussion, Prof. Kaiser described the techniques using out-of-focus images that have been developed to collimate and align the PS1 telescope. He also briefly described the active control system that was developed to maintain accurate focus of the telescope.
24 September: Spider: How an overweight telescope can still eat cookies
Juan Soler, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, U of T
Spider is a balloon-borne polarimeter designed to probe the ultimate frontier of Hot Big Bang cosmology: Inflation. In order to achieve its goal, Spider needs unprecedented control of systematics without becoming too heavy to fly. During the discussion, PhD candidate Soler told the story of how a few grams can become an abyss, separating us from exploring the early Universe.
24 September: Optical designs of a Wide Integral Field Infrared Spectrograph
Richard Chou, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, U of T
Graduate student Chou has developed two designs for a wide integral field infrared spectrograph (WIFIS) that can provide an unprecedented large etendue and comparable spectral resolutions. Called WIFIS1 and WIFIS2, both designs work with an existing integral field unit called FISICA to provide 12″ x 5″ field of view on 10-m telescopes.
WIFIS1 can provide an average spectral resolution of R~5,500 with a spectral coverage in each of JHK bands in a single exposure; WIFIS2 delivers R~3,000 with wider spectral coverage in zJ and H bands. Potential scientific applications of WIFIS include 2-D spectroscopic studies of galaxy mergers, star-forming galaxies, local galaxies, Galactic star-forming regions and supernova remnants.