Wide field-of-view liquid crystals-based modulator for the polarimeter of the Metis/Solar Orbiter

Capobianco, Gerardo;Casti, Marta;Fineschi, Silvano;Massone, Giuseppe;Sertsu, Mewael G.;Landini, Federico;Romoli, Marco;Antonucci, Ester;Andretta, Vincenzo;Naletto, Giampiero;Nicolini, Gianalfredo;Spadaro, Daniele;Alvarez Herrero, Alberto;Garcia Parejo, Pilar;Marmonti, Matteo. 2018. Wide field-of-view liquid crystals-based modulator for the polarimeter of the Metis/Solar Orbiter. Conference on Space Telescopes and Instrumentation – Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 10698, DOI: 10.1117/12.2323371

Metis is an inverted occulted coronagraph on-board the ESA/Solar Orbiter mission. The visible light path of the instrument will observe the «white» light (580-640 nm) linearly-polarized emission from the solar corona. The coronal polarized brightness allows retrieval of physical parameters such as the electron density and temperature of the K-corona. The Metis polarimeter comprises a quarter-wave retarder, the liquid crystal polarization modulation package (PMP) and a linear polarizer working as polarization analyser. The PMP consists of two Anti-Parallel Nematic Liquid Crystal Variable Retarders (LCVRs) with the fast axes parallels one to each other and a pre-tilted angle of the molecules in opposite direction, in order to maximize the homogeneity of the retardance across instrumental wide field of view: +/- 7 deg. This presentation reports the characterization of the PMP breadboard (BB), fully representative of the optical/polarimetric performances of the flight model. This characterization consisted in determining the performances of the device in terms of retardance as function of the applied voltage at different temperatures, angle of incidence and the variation of the retardance as a function of the wavelength. The calibrations were performed by measuring the complete Mueller matrix of the PMP-BB. The experimental results have been compared with the parameters of the theoretical model (e.g., depolarization, effective retardance, cells misalignment).

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