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Proton irradiation of liquid crystal based adaptive optical devices

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To assess its radiation hardness, a liquid crystal based adaptive optical element has been irradiated using a 60 MeV proton beam. The device with the functionality of an optical beam steerer was characterised before, during and after the irradiation. A systematic set of measurements on the transmission and beam deflection angles was carried out. The measurements showed that the transmission decreased only marginally and that its optical performance degraded only after a very high proton fluence (1010p/cm2). The device showed complete annealing in the functionality as a beam steerer, which leads to the conclusion that the liquid crystal technology for optical devices is not vulnerable to proton irradiation as expected in space.

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