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Monolithic telescopes fabricate a reflective telescope into a single silica substrate. This approach provides exceptional mechanical stability because the relative position of the mirrors is permanently polished into a monolithic substrate and is inherently temperature insensitive due to the low CTE of fused silica (0.5 ppm/K). Once fabricated, monolithic telescopes can be taken for granted because the mirrors will always be aligned, even after subject to extreme force like during launch into space. There is a need to scale such telescope designs to larger apertures but not to incur the weight penalty of the conventional design.


Aeroptics are a proposed new class of monolithic optical system in aerogel fabricated by molding around a master mandrel. This approach combines the intrinsic stability of proven monolithic telescopes, with the ultralow density of silica aerogels. In Aeroptics, the monolith is hollow with an aerogel substrate providing a supporting structure. Theoretically, Aeroptics could enable 1-m aperture space-based telescopes with a mass of just 15kg, and mass that scales with aperture diameter cubed.

  • All the stability advantages of a monolithic optic without the weight or optical absorption.
  • Reduces weight at a 1m scale by 2 – 3 orders of magnitude.
  • Compatible with space deployments and operations.
  • Can be used in any application requiring fixed reflective optical elements.
Potential Applications
  • Space situational awareness and navigation
  • Remote Sensing
Development Status

Current stage of technology development:  TRL 2-3

U.S. Patent Application No. 2023/0204936 Monolithic Optical Systems published 6/29/2023

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