The iLocater cryostat: Design and thermal control strategy for precision radial velocity measurements

Jonathan Crass, Louis G. Fantano, Frederick R. Hearty, Justin R. Crepp, Matthew J. Nelson, Sheila M. Wall, David A. Cavalieri, Corina Koca, David L. King, Robert O. Reynolds, Karl R. Stapelfeldt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


The current generation of precision radial velocity (RV) spectrographs are seeing-limited instruments. In order to achieve high spectral resolution on 8m class telescopes, these spectrographs require large optics and in turn, large instrument volumes. Achieving milli-Kelvin thermal stability for these systems is challenging but is vital in order to obtain a single measurement RV precision of better than 1m/s. This precision is crucial to study Earth-like exoplanets within the habitable zone. iLocater is a next generation RV instrument being developed for the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). Unlike seeinglimited RV instruments, iLocater uses adaptive optics (AO) to inject a diffraction-limited beam into single-mode fibers. These fibers illuminate the instrument spectrograph, facilitating a diffraction-limited design and a small instrument volume compared to present-day instruments. This enables intrinsic instrument stability and facilitates precision thermal control. We present the current design of the iLocater cryostat which houses the instrument spectrograph and the strategy for its thermal control. The spectrograph is situated within a pair of radiation shields mounted inside an MLI lined vacuum chamber. The outer radiation shield is actively controlled to maintain instrument stability at the sub-mK level and minimize effects of thermal changes from the external environment. An inner shield passively dampens any residual temperature fluctuations and is radiatively coupled to the optical board. To provide intrinsic stability, the optical board and optic mounts will be made from Invar and cooled to 58K to benefit from a zero coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) value at this temperature. Combined, the small footprint of the instrument spectrograph, the use of Invar, and precision thermal control will allow long-term sub-milliKelvin stability to facilitate precision RV measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI
EditorsLuc Simard, Christopher J. Evans, Hideki Takami
ISBN (Electronic)9781510601956
StatePublished - 2016
EventGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 30 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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