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Best Doctoral Thesis in New Technologies (Computational)

Dr Martin Pertenais

Dr Martin Pertenais (DLR, Germany)

New Technologies to Dr Martin Pertenais (DLR, Germany) for a PhD thesis on cutting-edge concepts of compact polychromatic spectropolarimeters adapted to astrophysical space mission requirements in the UV domain.

Martin Pertenais has obtained an optical engineer degree from the prestigious Engineer School Institut d'Optique Graduate School (IOGS) in Paris and a Master in photonics from the University of Jena. He then undertook a PhD thesis in instrumentation for astrophysics at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in Toulouse and at the Paris Observatory on "Stellar UV and Visible spectropolarimetry from space". This allowed him in particular to successfully lead the Arago Payload consortium and to innovate in new technologies for spectropolarimetry. After his PhD thesis, he moved on a position at DLR as the Optical System Engineer for PLATO. In parallel, he keeps working on new spectropolarimeter designs and co-supervises a PhD student on this topic for the NASA mission LUVOIR.

The goal of Martin Pertenais' PhD thesis was to find innovative concepts of spectropolarimeters, to build the first ever space mission equipped with a high-resolution spectropolarimeter working on a wide wavelength range including the UV domain. In Toulouse, he performed theoretical calculations and simulations for two different original concepts of polarimeters that he formulated. The first one is an inventive static polarimeter using birefringent wedges as polarisation spatial modulator. The second concept used a classical rotating polarimeter, albeit optimised to get constant efficiencies for the extraction of the Stokes parameters from 123 to 888 nm. The result is an ingenious very compact polarimeter working with the same polarimetric efficiency over a very large spectral range, including the UV. While in Paris Martin Pertenais created prototypes of both concepts to demonstrate experimentally his very encouraging theoretical results. He built and tested both prototypes, which showed excellent experimental results, increasing the Technology Readiness Level for these innovative technologies. Martin Pertenais also tested one of the two prototypes on the sky on real stars. In October 2015 he received the "Young Researcher Award" granted by the French CNES agency. Martin Pertenais was an essential member of the core team of the Arago international space mission project, a M4 and M5 ESA candidate mission.

The PhD thesis of Martin Pertenais was conducted at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in Toulouse and at the Paris Observatory in Meudon, with a degree delivered by the Université Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier, under the supervision of Coralie Neiner and Pascal Petit.