NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II S2.05-7899
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Optical Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Highly Adaptive Primary Mirror Having Embedded Actuators, Sensors, and Neural Control

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael Sheedy
115 Jackson Road
Devens, MA 01434-4027
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

Xinetics has demonstrated the technology required to fabricate a self-compensating highly adaptive silicon carbide primary mirror system having embedded actuators, sensors, and neural control with an areal density less that 10Kg/m2. The system architecture complete with feedback sensors, and neural algorithm was conceived, modeled and tested, and appears scaleable to 10-30meter class deployable systems. Highly adaptive telescopes require self-compensating telescope components to enable autonomously optimized optical trains to achieve very low total system wavefront error. High sensitivity semiconductor strain gages were shown to have adequate resolution for shape control. Resistance RTD sensors were shown to provide more than adequate temperature sensitivity. Analysis of strain gage placement conducted during this Phase I showed that the strain sensors required for neural control will require very high precision strain measurement (less than 1 microstrain), potential sensors were tested and characterized. Phase I data acquisition system limitations prevented full closed loop hardware demonstration. As a result Xinetics demonstrated the closed loop function using FEA analysis to provide simulated data to train the MATLAB based neural control algorithm. Phase I results show very encouraging performance and provide design information for a solid technical plan for full hardware demonstration in a phase II.

Xinetics has engaged in discussions with a wide variety of companies and research organizations interested in adaptive-optics applications. Based on these discussions certain areas hold the greatest promise of near-term applications. These are: 1) space based imaging systems 2)confocal microscopes 3)VLSI lithography resolution enhancement 4)large actuator count adaptive-optics systems for military imaging applications 5)opthalmic fundus cameras for diagnosis and vision enhancement and 6) custom contact lenses uniquely shaped to the individual's corneal topography.

In addition to supporting NASA Cosmic Journey missions to study the Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU), the technology could be easily adapted to NASA's solar energy harvesting applications. Some solar energy harvesting approaches require inexpensive reflectors that are capable of directing sunlight to a specific location during the sun's daily transit. These heliotropic reflectors do not need precision optics. Our embedded control approach could easily and inexpensively be adapted to large metallized polymer reflectors that continually re-direct the sunlight based embedded sensors.