The Laboratory for Adaptive Optics enables exploratory research and development of adaptive optics systems for the next generation of high resolution astronomy instrumentation.

The Laboratory is a component of University of California Observatories, with facilities located on the UC Santa Cruz campus. We develop, assemble, and deploy complex adaptive optics instruments for the world's largest telescopes in support of UC Astronomy, including those at the Keck, Gemini, and Lick Observatories. We have a close affiliation with the UC Center for Adaptive Optics where our educational and outreach activities include hosting PhD thesis research, a summer school on adaptive optics, and seminars and workshops in the AO related fields We actively solicit collaboration with industry and partner observatories to pursue goals benefiting the astronomical AO community.

Major instruments developed in the LAO include:

Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics system for the Shane Telescope on Mount Hamilton. LAO designed and constructed this instrument in coordination with the Lick Optical Shops, and commissioned the instrument in 2013 at Mt Hamilton.
Gemini Planet Imager - An "Extreme" Adaptive Optics system for imaging planets around nearby stars. Developed in collaboration with Gemini and six other institutuions, this instrument is now at the Gemini South 8-meter telescope in Chile. LAO hosted the laboratory research and development of Extreme AO, MEMS, and coronagraph concepts, and hosted the instrument's final integration and testing before shipment to Chile.
GPI First Light press release.

Read about our laboratory facilities

Through the CfAO, we have hosted a series of workshops on laser guidestars

Recent Publications by LAO Researchers

  • Gavel, D. T., Kupke, R., Rudy, A. R., Srinath, S., Dillon, D., & Poyneer, L. A. (2016). Lick Observatory’s Shane telescope adaptive optics system (ShaneAO): research directions and progress. Proc SPIE, V. 9909. doi-link
  • Gavel, D. T. (2015). Second generation laser guide star adaptive optics for astronomy: MEMS and fiber lasers lead the way. In Adaptive Optics: Analysis, Methods and Systems, AO 2015. doi-link
  • Gavel, D., Kupke, R., Dillon, D., Norton, A., Ratliff, C., Cabak, J., & Pfister, T. (2015). Laser guide star adaptive optics at Lick Observatory. In Adaptive Optics for Extremely Large Telescopes 4 - Conference Proceedings. doi-link
  • Rampy, R., Gavel, D., Rochester, S. M., & Holzlöhner, R. (2015). Toward optimization of pulsed sodium laser guide stars. Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, 32(12). doi-link
  • Gavel, D., Kupke, R., Dillon, D., Norton, A., Ratliff, C., Cabak, J., & Pfister, T. (2014). ShaneAO : wide science spectrum adaptive optics system for the Lick Observatory. Proc SPIE, 9148. doi-link
  • McGurk, R., Rockosi, C., Gavel, D., Kupke, R., Peck, M., Pfister, T., & Norton, A. (2014). Commissioning ShARCS: The Shane adaptive optics infrared camera-spectrograph for the Lick Observatory Shane 3-m telescope. Proc SPIE, 9148.doi-link
  • Gavel, D. (2005). Stability of Closed-Loop Tomography Algorithms for Adaptive Optics. In Adaptive Optics: Analysis and Methods/Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging/Information Photonics/Signal Recovery and Synthesis Topical Meetings, p. AThA5. doi-link
  • Thomas, S. J., Poyneer, L., De Rosa, R., Macintosh, B., Dillon, D., Wallace, J. K., & Goodsell, S. (2011). Integration and test of the Gemini Planet Imager. Proc SPIE, 8149. doi-link
  • Macintosh, B. A., Graham, J. R., Palmer, D. W., Doyon, R., Dunn, J., Gavel, D. T., & Soummer, R. (2008). The Gemini planet imager: From science to design to construction. Proc SPIE, 7015. doi-link

Additional publications here

The LAO was initiated with a generous grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.