Imaging bundles provide a convenient way to translate a spatially coherent image, yet conventional imaging bundles made from silica fibre optics typically remain expensive with large losses due to poor filling factors (~40%). We present the characterisation of a novel polymer imaging bundle made from poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) that is considerably cheaper and a better alternative to silica imaging bundles over short distances (~1 m; from the middle to the edge of a telescope’s focal plane). The large increase in filling factor (92% for the polymer imaging bundle) outweighs the large increase in optical attenuation from using PMMA (1 dB/m) instead of silica (10−3 dB/m). We present and discuss current and possible future multi-object applications of the polymer imaging bundle in the context of astronomical instrumentation including: field acquisition, guiding, wavefront sensing, narrow-band imaging, aperture masking, and speckle imaging. The use of PMMA limits its use in low-light applications (e.g., imaging of galaxies); however, it is possible to fabricate polymer imaging bundles from a range of polymers that are better suited to the desired science.
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