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18 August 2017

Guide Star Alliance Team Receives OSA’s 2017 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

18 August 2017

Guide Star Alliance Team Receives OSA’s 2017 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

 A German-Canadian, two-company team establishes new standard for extremely large, earth-based telescopes

WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce that Guide Star Alliance is the winner of the 2017 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award. Under contract of and in close collaboration with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), industrial partners, TOPTICA Photonics and MPB Communications (MPBC), joined together to develop a high-power CW tunable laser system called the SodiumStar. The team’s development is now considered the quasi-standard for existing and planned telescopes around the world. The Guide Star Alliance will receive the award on 18 September 2017, during Frontiers in Optics (FiO) + Laser Science (LS) in Washington DC, USA. ­Wilhelm Kaenders, TOPTICA, Wallace Clements, MPBC and Daoping Wei, MPBC will accept the award on behalf of the team.
“I have been highly impressed by the outstanding professionalism and expertise of the TOPTICA/MPBC team,” said Corinne Boyer, adaptive optics group leader, Thirty Meter Telescope, USA. “The result is a ‘first class’ sodium laser now available for the entire adaptive optics community.”
Maxime Boccas, head of maintenance, support and engineering at the European Southern Observatory, Chile, described the laser as being “the greatest achievement in astronomic instrumentation of the last ten years.”
After seven years of development, the SodiumStar is now recognized as a core technology for the next generation of earth-based telescopes. The sodium laser system creates an artificial guide star to remove image blurring due to the earth’s atmosphere, while providing efficient power conversion, wavelength stability, excellent beam quality and high photon return. The design of the SodiumStar is dynamic, allowing the possibility of scaling the output power to even higher levels while preserving excellent beam quality. Apart from basic astronomical research, this laser system will leverage ground-based approaches to space debris tracking and remediation using lasers as well as ground-to-satellite laser communications.
Guide Star Alliance - Team Members
TOPTICA Photonics AG/TOPTICA Projects GmbH:

  • Dr. Wilhelm Kaenders, President
  • Dr. Bernhard Ernstberger, Program Manager
  • Dr. Axel Friedenauer, Systems Architect
  • Manfred Hager, Systems Engineer
  • Dragos Carp, Software Engineer
  • Dr. Christian Rausch Senior Electronics Engineer
  • Ralf Bickleder, Electronics Engineer
  • Andrew von Hoersten, Electronics Engineer
  • Anja Rodemann, Quality Manager
  • Dr. Frank Lison, Vice President R&D
  • Dr. Patrick Leisching, Vice President R&D
  • Rami al Kamand, Mechanical Designer
  • Dr. Martin Enderlein, Systems Engineer
  • Paul Rehme, Software Engineer
  • Konstantin Otto, Software Engineer
  • Robin Schwerdt, Production Manager
  • Thomas Niederreiter, Production Manager

MPB Communications, Inc.

  • Jane Bachynski, President
  • Dr. Wallace Clements, Director Engineering & Development
  • Claudette Linton, Program Co-Ordinator
  • Dr. Vladimir Karpov, Optical System Architect, Senior Optical Scientist
  • Dr. Vladimir Protopopov, Senior Optical Scientist
  • Dr. Daoping Wei, Senior Optical Scientist
  • Dmitri Snejko, Senior Electronics Engineer
  • Pierre de Villers, Senior Software Engineer
  • Dr. Larry Paul, Senior Software Engineer
  • Jian Chu, Mechanical Designer

The Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award was established by The Optical Society in 1989 and has since been bestowed on dozens of outstanding researchers and engineers. Named in remembrance of Paul F. Forman, who, among many other accomplishments, effectively raised the visibility of optical engineering. This team award recognizes technical achievements such as product engineering, process, software and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as engineering education, publication and management, and furthering public appreciation of optical engineering. For more information on the award or the nomination process, visit OSA Awards.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

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