About Us – Flat Wavefronts

About Us

Flat Wavefronts was founded in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010 by Marcos van Dam to provide world class consulting services in adaptive optics and related disciplines. We prefer to work from our office, but can travel to your site when necessary.

Marcos has been involved in and passionate about adaptive optics since 1999. His PhD research comprised of theoretical studies in wavefront sensing at the University of Canterbury. This led to a Center for Adaptive Optics funded post-doctoral position at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he characterized and improved the performance of the adaptive optics systems at the WM Keck Observatory. During this time, Marcos was also involved with adaptive optics at the Lick Observatory and the University of Indiana School of Optometry, as well as teaching the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Observational Astrophysics course. A full time position at Keck Observatory followed, during which the Laser Guide Star facility was commissioned and an upgrade of the wavefront sensors and wavefront controllers was undertaken. In addition, Marcos taught a number of courses at the Center for Adaptive Optics Summer Schools.

Following his return to New Zealand, Marcos was asked to work on many adaptive optics projects, which led to the establishment of Flat Wavefronts. Since then, Flat Wavefronts has been involved in numerous design studies on the many aspects of the Giant Magellan Telescope, including the ground layer adaptive optics system, the natural guide star system, the laser tomography adaptive optics system and the telescope phasing sensors. Marcos has continued to work to push the performance limits of the Keck Observatory adaptive optics systems, with efforts on performance optimization, commissioning the Keck I laser guide star adaptive optics facility, understanding the image quality delivered by the AO system and lately converting the infrared tip-tilt sensor into a facility class instrument. Currently, Marcos is heavily involved in the design of the next-generation adaptive optics system for Gemini North as well as the multi-conjugate adaptive optics system for the 4.2-m European Solar Telescope under design. In 2013, Marcos spent the year in Chile improving the scientific productivity of GeMS, the world’s first multi-conjugate adaptive optics system at Gemini Observatory, and continues to be involved in this effort.¬† He also loves working on small projects, such as writing software to compute the wavefront reconstructor for the PALM-3000 instrument, feasibility studies for Robo-AO upgrades on Mauna Kea, and simulating the expected performance of the Swedish Solar Telescope with upgraded deformable mirrors.

Marcos has published numerous journal articles on adaptive optics, acted as referee for eight different journals, been on the organizing committee for SPIE and OSA conferences and reviewed a number of astronomical instruments.

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