A Visit to The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab
In 2015, Interface’s visionary founder Richard F. Caris had many legacies, one of which is the donation he made to The University of Arizona’s (UA) Mirror Lab. This endowment was a testament to his unwavering commitment to innovation, exploration, and science. Because of his deep personal interest and generous donation to the lab, UA named it the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab.
At the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, scientists, engineers, and technicians are developing large, lightweight mirrors with unparalleled surface accuracy. The actual mirrors are helping to advance science and discovery around the world with the new generation of optical telescopes that can explore the universe through optical and infrared light. The actual mirrors developed at the lab represent a sweeping departure from the old conventional solid-glass mirrors.
Interface’s Chief Engineer Ken Vining and VP of Product Management and Marketing Ted Larson recently took a trip to Tucson, Arizona, to get an up close and personal view of the advancements that have been made over the last four years at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. The experience is breathtaking for anyone that gets the opportunity to visit the lab.
Although the lab has been using Interface’s load cells long before 2015, the purpose of the Caris donation was to aid in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) with the lab’s revolutionary mirror casting capabilities.
These primary mirrors for the GMT are described as “a marvel of modern engineering and glassmaking.” Five of the seven 8.4-meter segmented mirrors have been cast thus far. The first mirror is complete and the other four are in various stages of production.
Completing any telescope project is a significant time commitment. In the last four years, a few segments have been cast. The project is expected to run until 2027. Although completing the GMT is a long-term endeavor, the lab is starting to think about future projects.
During Interface’s recent visit, our engineers made sure to provide careful guidance on product selection to promote future achievements and inventions.
“The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab team has all these ideas they’re thinking about and we knew if they engaged Interface early, we could help them solve a lot of problems.” – Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface
While our experts were touring the Mirror Lab, they also discussed our new Interface University Program that provides special incentives for students and higher education programs. Interface knows that when programs learn with the best force measurement products, they can advance their learnings and encourage future innovations.
One of the additional benefits from the onsite visit was advancing Interface and the Mirror Lab’s collaboration in providing additional technical education, support, and resource to UA engineering students and Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab personnel. Interface has developed a variety of topics for educational seminars, including humidity’s effect on load cell performance, the basics of metrology, how to properly calibrate a load cell, and the impact of high elevation on load cells.
In case you’re curious about the last topic, elevation doesn’t have much of an effect on load cell performance. However, a telescope of this magnitude can test the boundaries like no other. It is 18,000 feet at installation altitude, which gets a telescope above the ‘dirty’ parts of Earth’s atmosphere. If you are looking to learn more about the Interface University Program, contact us here.
Interface was founded in 1968 by Richard F. Caris. You can read more about our history here. If you would like to tour The University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, you can get tickets online. Tours are Monday through Friday at 1 pm, and as available at 3 pm. Click here for tickets and information.
About UA: Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state’s super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $622 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually. https://www.arizona.edu