Technology Transfer License deal:

Max Planck Innovation announces an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Baader Planetarium GmbH for the Commercialisation of the BACHES Échelle spectrograph

Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer agency of the Max Planck Society, is proud to announce the signing of an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Baader Planetarium GmbH. This agreement enables Baader Planetarium to produce and commercialise a low-cost, light-weight échelle specrograph suitable for observations of bright objects with telescopes of up to 50 cm (20'') in diameter.

The "engineering prototype" has been tested successfully in measurement activities at a 1-m telescope of the La-Silla-Observatory of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. The resolving power reaches up to 20.000 (i.e., ?/?? where ?? is the smallest difference of two wavelengths that can be distinguished at a wavelength of ?) in a spectral range between 390 nm and 800 nm (with a selectable range of 300 nm). This instrument meets market needs since more and more amateur astronomers take spectra of planets, stars, comets and bright objects. This échelle spectrograph was developed by Dr. Vadim Burwitz at the Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching in a close collaboration with Dr. Gerardo Avila, Carlos Guirao and Jesus Rodriguez from the ESO in Garching. The abundance of Spanish names in this group also explains the acronym BACHES, the Spanish word for "pothole", which stands for "BAsic éCHElle Spectrograph".

« Commercial prototype of the échelle spectrograph BACHES (right: mounted to a telescope).

 pdf-paper with technival overview of the échelle spectrograph BACHES
This is the second time that Max Planck Innovation signs a license agreement with Baader Planetarium. In 2006 Baader Planetarium started to commercialise the somewhat simpler and therefore low budget slit spectrograph DADOS (Spanish for "dice") with a spectral resolving power of up to 500 and 3000 respectively (using the low-resolution or the high-resolution reflection grating) between 350 nm and 900 nm. With this product Baader Planetarium explored the "spectrograph market" of amateur astronomers and science teaching equipment. Soon, it became clear that DADOS was a success story and prepared the market for the more sophisticated spectrograph of the second generation, i.e. BACHES.

The first commercial prototype of BACHES was introduced to the public by Dr. Burwitz in May at the astronomy fair ATT 2009 in Essen in the course of a series of spectroscopy-lectures. After the lecture the avid audience had the chance to assure themselves of the BACHES-performance looking at the high-resolution solar spectrum with their own eyes.

At the moment Max Planck Innovation and Baader Planetarium are also exploring the possibility of using these low-cost spectrographs in spectrometers for chemical analysis. This may give access to an even bigger market to this technology. The scientists at this "extraterrestrial" research institute have always had a certain affection for also solving "terrestrial" problems: In the past, scientists for theoretical physics at this institute developed a device and method for the non-invasive early diagnosis of melanoma. Presently, they are helping to establish the new field of "plasma-medicine" which may significantly improve the prospects for healing chronic wounds like ulcera. These very terrestrial developments happening at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics show that even very fundamental questions about the stars of other galaxies stimulate technological progress of every-day importance.

« Solar spectrum obtained with a digital camera through BACHES. The Fraunhofer lines (the dark vertical lines in the spectrum) can be seen clearly. Right: Distinctive absorption lines of hydrogen, sodium and magnesium.

  pdf-file, paper presented by Dr. Vadim Burwitz/MPI/ESO at the Spectroscopy Workshop on the ATT exhibition - 05/2009 (englisch language)

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