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Forging Advanced Liquid-Crystal Coronagraphs Optimized for Novel Exoplanet Research

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 FALCONER project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the FALCONER project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "FALCONER" about.

technologies    thermal    exoplanets    instrument    imaging    accurate    suppress    signs    39    brand    protoplanetary    amplitude    observational    spectropolarimetry    meter    holes    planes    atmospheric    class    wavefront    ultimate    close    strengths    incorporate    nearby    extremely    strategy    elt    plane    imaged    disks    telescope    zones    manipulating    search    degree    polarimetry    sky    pupil    building    designs    segmentation    breakthrough    individual    lab    hybrid    achromatic    broadband    improvement    luminous    hazes    habitable    rejection    starlight    liquid    focal    inner    star    right    successfully    self    rocky    light    observations    infrared    mirror    performance    regions    contrast    360    1e    combine    sensitive    wavelengths    coronagraphs    sufficiently    sensing    crystal    coronagraphy    combining    coronagraph    instrumental    planet    telescopes    observe    stars    dark    prototype    photometry    unable    validate    wavelength   

Project "FALCONER" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: RAPENBURG 70
city: LEIDEN
postcode: 2311 EZ

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Netherlands [NL]
 Total cost 1˙499˙522 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙522 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-04-01   to  2021-03-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN NL (LEIDEN) coordinator 1˙499˙522.00


 Project objective

The 39-m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) has the potential to directly observe and characterize habitable exoplanets, but current technologies are unable to sufficiently suppress the starlight very close to the star. I propose to develop a novel instrumental approach with breakthrough contrast performance by combining coronagraphs based on brand-new liquid crystal technology, and sensitive imaging polarimetry. The novel coronagraphs will provide an achromatic rejection of starlight even right next to the star such that exoplanets can be imaged efficiently in broadband light and characterized through spectropolarimetry. The coronagraphs will incorporate focal-plane wavefront sensing and polarimetry to achieve an ultimate contrast of 1E-9, which will enable the E-ELT to observe habitable exoplanets.

We will prototype coronagraph designs of increasing contrast performance, validate them in the lab, and apply them on-sky using 6-8 meter class telescopes. With our coronagraphs that offer a contrast improvement by a factor of 10 as compared to current systems in 360-degree dark holes, we will search for self-luminous exoplanets very close to stars at thermal infrared wavelengths, and characterize known targets with multi-wavelength observations. Through accurate photometry and polarimetry, we will study their atmospheric hazes. By combining liquid-crystal coronagraphy with sensitive polarimetry, we will study the inner regions of protoplanetary disks to find signs of planet formation.

By manipulating both phase and amplitude in pupil and focal planes, we will establish hybrid coronagraph systems that combine the strengths of individual concepts, and that can be adapted to the telescope mirror segmentation and the observational strategy. The proposed research will demonstrate the technologies necessary for building an instrument for the E-ELT that can successfully study rocky exoplanets in the habitable zones of nearby stars.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 A. J. Bohn, M. A. Kenworthy, C. Ginski, M. Benisty, J. de Boer, C. U. Keller, E. E. Mamajek, T. Meshkat, G. A. Muro-Arena, M. J. Pecaut, F. Snik, S. G. Wolff, M. Reggiani
Discovery of a directly imaged disk in scattered light around the Sco-Cen member Wray 15-788
published pages: A87, ISSN: 0004-6361, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201834523
Astronomy & Astrophysics 624 2019-06-07
2019 Frans Snik, Michiel Rodenhuis, Michael J. Escuti, Leandra Brickson, Kathryn Hornburg, Jihwan Kim, Chris Kievid, Sebastiaan Groenhuijsen, Daan Roosegaarde
Producing true-color rainbows with patterned multi-layer liquid-crystal polarization gratings
published pages: 1583, ISSN: 2159-3930, DOI: 10.1364/ome.9.001583
Optical Materials Express 9/4 2019-06-07
2019 David S. Doelman, Michael J. Escuti, Frans Snik
Multi-color holography with a two-stage patterned liquid-crystal element
published pages: 1246, ISSN: 2159-3930, DOI: 10.1364/ome.9.001246
Optical Materials Express 9/3 2019-06-07
2017 Gilles P. P. L. Otten, Frans Snik, Matthew A. Kenworthy, Christoph U. Keller, Jared R. Males, Katie M. Morzinski, Laird M. Close, Johanan L. Codona, Philip M. Hinz, Kathryn J. Hornburg, Leandra L. Brickson, Michael J. Escuti
published pages: 175, ISSN: 1538-4357, DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/834/2/175
The Astrophysical Journal 834/2 2019-04-18
2019 David S. Doelman, Fedde Fagginger Auer, Michael J. Escuti, Frans Snik
Simultaneous phase and amplitude aberration sensing with a liquid-crystal vector-Zernike phase mask
published pages: , ISSN: 0146-9592, DOI:
Optics Letters 2019-04-18
2019 Matthew A. Kenworthy, Johanan L. Codona, Frans Snik
Pupil Plane Phase Apodization
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
Handbook of Astronomical Instrumentation 2019-04-18
2019 Haffert, S. Y.; Por, E. H.; Keller, C. U.; Kenworthy, M. A.; Doelman, D. S.; Snik, F.; Escuti, M. J.
The Single-mode Complex Amplitude Refinement (SCAR) coronagraph: II. Lab verification, and toward the characterization of Proxima b
published pages: , ISSN: 0004-6361, DOI:
Astronomy & Astrophysics 2019-04-18
2018 C. Ginski, M. Benisty, R. G. van Holstein, A. Juhász, T. O. B. Schmidt, G. Chauvin, J. de Boer, M. Wilby, C. F. Manara, P. Delorme, F. Ménard, P. Pinilla, T. Birnstiel, M. Flock, C. Keller, M. Kenworthy, J. Milli, J. Olofsson, L. Pérez, F. Snik, N. Vogt
First direct detection of a polarized companion outside a resolved circumbinary disk around CS Chamaeleonis
published pages: A79, ISSN: 0004-6361, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201732417
Astronomy & Astrophysics 616 2019-04-18

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