Kenyan Kawauchi was born and raised in Hilo on the Big Island. He is currently a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He is interested in electronics and IC devices. In his spare time, Kenyan enjoys surfing, swimming, and weight lifting.
Institution when accepted: University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Akamai Project: Curvature Wavefront Sensor Arbitrary Waveform Generator
Project Site: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Mentors: Steve Colley
Optical systems use Adaptive Optics (AO) to compensate for optical effects introduced by the medium between the object and its image. In an AO system used for astronomy, the wavefront sensor (WFS) is the component responsible for detecting the phase shift of the light due to the Earth’s atmosphere. The curvature type WFS uses a vibrating membrane to calculate the wavefront phase shift. It does this by measuring the light intensity in sync with the movement of the membrane as it vibrates back and forth. The membrane vibrates due to sound from a loud speaker, which is driven by an arbitrary waveform generator. The objective of my project is to design an arbitrary waveform generator capable of producing a waveform that can instantly transition from one type of wave to another. In order to implement this function, I programmed an integrated circuit called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) using Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language (VHDL). I used a software program called Quartus II to code, simulate and test the function of the FPGA. The arbitrary waveform generator we designed will replace the current commercial one that is unable to instantly transition from one type of waveform to another. The advantage of this “dual-stroke” concept is better accuracy in calculating the wavefront phase shift. The resulting increase in performance of the AO system is equivalent to making all the stars appear to be two and a half times brighter.