Researchers with the CAS Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics show a silicon carbide (SiC) single mirror blank with a record-breaking diameter of 4.03 meters in Changchun City, Northeast China’s Jilin Province, Aug. 21, 2018. (Photo: China News Service/Sun Zifa)
(ECNS) - A research institute in northeastern China’s Changchun City has announced a breakthrough in creating the world's largest silicon carbide (SiC) single mirror blank with a record-breaking diameter of 4.03 meters, expected to be widely applied to large-scale telescopes.
The achievement, which is protected by independent intellectual property rights, was the result of 15 years of effort by researchers at the CAS Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics.
Experts passed a review of the project on Aug. 21, saying the product will soon be applied to large-scale electro-optical systems in China, solving a core technical challenge in developing large-caliber optical systems.
Project chief Zhang Xuejun said the mirror blank is a vital component for creating a large-scale telescope for Earth observation and astronomical exploration at a high resolution.
SiC is an internationally recognized high-performance optical reflector material, but China faces the challenge of a technology monopoly in Europe and the United States in making SiC mirror components.
The institute started researching the technology as early as 2003, and by 2009 it had secured a fund of 196 million yuan from the central government to develop the 4m SiC single mirror blank.
Through numerous experiments and validation steps, the research team has developed the 4.03m SiC blank to detect visible light bands, surpassing the previous 1.5-meter-diameter limit for a visible-light SiC-based mirror.