The Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics & Technology (NIAOT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) was established in April 2001. It evolved from the Research and Development (R&D) units and Mirror Laboratory of the Nanjing Astronomical Instruments Research Center, which was founded in 1958.
NIAOT specializes in R&D of new astronomical technologies, as well as professional astronomical telescopes and instruments. It has developed approximately 60 astronomical telescopes and instruments, including LAMOST and the 2.16-meter optical telescope as well as 30 astronomical instruments exported to foreign countries. It has received 69 national and provincial awards. NIAOT possesses world-class R&D capability in the field of observational instruments and facilities.
NIAOT has eight R&D subunits: the New Telescope Technology Research Department, the Astronomical Spectra and High-resolution Image Research Department, the Mirror Lab, the Solar Instrument Research Department, Optical Technology with Large Aperture Research Department, the Astronomical Telescope Engineering Center, the Antarctic Astronomical Technology Center and the CAS Key Laboratory of Astronomical Optics and Technology.
As of 2013, the institute had nearly 1,500 sets of R&D equipment, including a 4-meter CNC optical manufacturing machine, a dynamic interferometer and a coordinate measuring machine installed in its 30-meter optical inspection tower, which was completed in 2011. This equipment greatly improves large aperture optical manufacturing and testing abilities.
The institute has over 20 professors specializing in astronomical telescopes and instruments, including two CAS academicians and one academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Among its total staff of 200 are also more than 70 senior engineers as well as a skillful and efficient support team.
NIAOT is undertaking a number of key national and provincial projects as well as developing fruitful international cooperation with foreign institutes in the fields of Antarctic astronomy and extremely large telescopes, among other areas.
The institute offers master's, doctoral and postdoctoral programs, with an enrollment of about 60 graduate students. It also collaborates with a number of internationally renowned astronomical observatories and institutes to train young scientists.
In the coming decade, NIAOT will focus on research involving Antarctic astronomical facilities, key technologies for the ground-based optical/infrared Extremely Large Telescope, the detection of exoplanets, as well as national space missions. It will also develop new technologies for astronomical high-resolution imaging and astronomical telescopes used in extreme environments as well as advanced manufacturing technology for large aspherical mirrors. By promoting innovation in astronomical hightechnology in China and actively carrying out international cooperation, NIAOT aims to become a first-class institute in China and play an important role in the international astronomical community.