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Innovative optical technologies for focal plane instrumentation

In principle, the dimensions of the focal plane instruments scale with the diameter of the telescope; nonetheless, the construction of such instruments is presently beyond our technological capabilities. Therefore, there is a need to identify and develop new optical technologies that will surmount this obstacle. As far as infrared spectroscopy is concerned, this is the most attractive technique for research into cold objects (planets and small bodies) close to bright stars.

To tackle these problems the desire to increase the spatial and spectral resolution is ever more pressing, and hence the need to increase as much as possible the available detection area. Italian observatories are involved in the development of next generation infrared spectrometers such as GIANO and NAHUAL for the GTC (Gran Telescopio Canarias). The X-SHOOTER spectrograph for the VLT, dedicated to the acquisition, in a single exposure, of intermediate resolution spectra (R 5000-15000) over a very wide spectral range (UV-NIR), was installed on the VLT in 2008. In general, given the dimensions of these instruments, it is necessary to build them via national and international consortia. This allows us to concentrate our contribution in the areas of maximum expertise and so requires that these are adequately supported.