June 20, 2002

New Building For Center For Adaptive Optics To Be Dedicated

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a key partner in the University of California Santa Cruz-based Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO), will participate Friday in the dedication of a new building for the Center.
National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell will speak as part of the dedication ceremony.

The 4-year-old CfAO is a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center and is made up of 25 participating institutions including universities, national laboratories and private businesses.

The dedication will be at 1:30 p.m. at Science Hill at the UCSC campus. For more information call Tim Stephens at (831) 459-4352 or stephens [at] cats.ucsc.edu ( stephens[at]cats[dot]ucsc[dot]edu ) .

Several LLNL scientists are founding members of the CfAO. The Lab plays a key role in several fields of adaptive optics, including astronomy and vision science.

"Though we’ve been operational for close to four years, this dedication means so much to all the institutions involved in this field of science," said Claire Max, associate director of CfAO and an astrophysicist with LLNL’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. "Adaptive optics is already providing us with a much clearer view of the universe and of the human eye, and many other exciting applications await us."

In astronomy, adaptive optics is being used at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to enable astronomers to minimize the blurring effects of the Earth’s atmosphere, producing images with unprecedented detail and resolution. The adaptive optics system uses light from a relatively bright star, or guide star, to measure the atmospheric distortions and to correct for them, but only about 1 percent of the sky contains stars sufficiently bright to be of use. A laser built by LLNL is currently being commissioned at Keck that will allow adaptive optics to be used nearly anywhere in the sky by producing an artificial laser guide star. The Keck virtual guide star is expected to operational by later this year.

The only laser guide star in the world currently being used for astronomy is at Lick Observatory, and was built by LLNL. .It is operated by Lick staff, and is the only laser guide star today with operational adaptive optics which make improved astronomical images.

In vision science, Scot Olivier, LLNL group leader for adaptive optics in I Division, is directing a team of researchers developing adaptive optics to study the human eye and to help in the early detection of eye disease. This new generation of prototype clinical adaptive optics systems is based on compact MEMS (micro-electrical mechanical systems) technology being developed at LLNL in partnership with industry and academia. These new systems will be used to study the limits of human visual acuity to guide improvements in contact lenses and laser refractive surgery to correct for aberrations in the eye that cannot be corrected with conventional eyeglasses. In addition, these systems will be used to detect retinal disease at an earlier stage, to allow an ophthalmologist to treat the disease before it affects a person’s vision. Other LLNL researchers are developing a retinal prosthesis for those patients whose vision has been impaired by eye disease.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Laboratory news releases and photos are also available electronically on the World Wide Web of the Internet at URL http://www.llnl.gov/PAO and on UC Newswire.