NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II S3.03-7904
SUBTOPIC TITLE: High Contrast Astrophysical Imaging
PROPOSAL TITLE: 128x128 Ultra-High Density Optical Interconnect

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

Future NASA programs like Tertiary Planet Finder (TPF) require high-density deformable mirrors with up to 16,000 actuators to enable direct imaging of planets around distant stars. Xinetics has been developing high-density module actuator arrays that will enable deformable mirrors to be fabricated with array sizes up to 128 by 128. These monolithic actuator arrays have eliminated the need for discrete wires by using internal electrical conductors that terminate at the back of the module. Concepts for electrical attachment have been developed to allow laboratory testing and evaluation, but reliable interconnect technology must be developed that will allow the module mirror technology to meet space qualification requirements. Environmental requirements for the interconnect include radiation, mechanical, thermal and life cycle loads. The interconnect must also survive subsequent assembly processes including thermal and coating vacuum cycles. We are proposing under Phase I to investigate electrical interface options, materials and processes for the module arrays compatible with future space qualification requirements. During a follow on Phase II a high density interconnect for a full scale 32 by 32 mirror would be built and assembly processes qualified with rigorous testing.

Applications would pertain to government imaging systems. This would included DoD systems and also intelligence gathering situations.

This technology has direct application in a wide range of potential NASA imaging programs. The immediate need would be on Eclipse and TPF systems (see Figure 19). Here either direct imaging or a coronographic application would use a deformable mirror to further remove stray light from the imaging plane. This electronic development would be able to achieve the three important characteristics of any spaced-based system. This would be a substantial reduction in size, weight, and power. Programs such as AMT could also be able to leverage the results as this program is currently in process between JPL and Xinetics.
Xinetics is currently involved in a series of programs with NASA that would use adaptive optics within the spacecraft. All of them need slow speed systems but must have excellent resolution and low-noise. This technology would apply directly to these programs.