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Development and application of metamaterial-based half-wave plates for the NIKA and NIKA2 polarimeters

Pisano, G. ORCID:, Ritacco, A., Monfardini, A., Tucker, C. ORCID:, Ade, P. A. R. ORCID:, Shitvov, A., Benoit, A., Calvo, M., Catalano, A., Goupy, J., Leclercq, S., Macias-Perez, J., Andrianasolo, A. and Ponthieu, N. 2022. Development and application of metamaterial-based half-wave plates for the NIKA and NIKA2 polarimeters. Astronomy and Astrophysics 658 , A24. 10.1051/0004-6361/202038643

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Context. Large field-of-view imaging and polarimetry instruments operating at millimetre and sub-millimetre wavelengths are fundamental tools to understand the role of magnetic fields in channelling filament material into prestellar cores, providing unique insight in the physics of galactic star-forming regions. Among other topics, at extra-galactic scales, polarisation observations of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs) will allow us to constrain the possible physical conditions of the emitting plasma from the jets and/or explore the physics of dust inside supernova remnants. The kilo-pixel New IRAM KIDs Array 2 (NIKA2) camera, installed today at the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM) 30-m telescope, represents one of the best tools available to astronomers to produce simultaneous intensity and polarimetry maps over large fields at 260 GHz (1.15 mm). Aims. The polarisation measurement, in NIKA and NIKA2, is achieved by rapidly modulating the total incoming polarisation. In the end, this allows one to safely isolate the small science signal from the large, un-polarised, and strongly variable, atmospheric background. Methods. The polarisation modulation is achieved by inserting a fast rotating half-wave plate (HWP) in the optical beam. In order to allow wide field-of-view observations, the plate has to be large, with a diameter of 250 mm. The modulation of the polarised signal at 12 Hz also requires the waveplate to be sufficiently light. In addition, this key optical element has to exhibit optimal electromagnetic characteristics in terms of transmission and differential phase-shift. For this purpose, three metamaterial HWPs have been developed using the mesh-filter technology. The knowledge acquired in developing the first two single-band HWPs was used to achieve the more challenging performance requirements of the last dual-band HWP. The first and the third waveplates met the requirements for both the NIKA and NIKA2 instruments. Results. We first illustrate the design, the technical developments, the fabrication, and laboratory characterisation of the three mesh-HWPs. The deployment of two such elements in the NIKA and NIKA2 instruments at the 30-metre telescope is then described. We conclude with representative examples of astrophysical maps integrating polarimetry.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: EDP Sciences
ISSN: 0004-6361
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 21 October 2021
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 11:13

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