NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:High Contrast Astrophysical Imaging
PROPOSAL TITLE:Ultraflat Tip-Tilt-Piston MEMS Deformable Mirror

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Boston Micromachines Corporation
108 Water Street
Watertown, MA 02472-4696
(617) 926-8796

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paul   Bierden
108 Water Street
Watertown, MA  02472-4696
(617) 926-8796

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This proposal describes a Phase II SBIR project to develop high-resolution, ultraflat micromirror array devices using advanced silicon surface micromachining technology and building on process innovations demonstrated in a successful Phase I research effort.

Each device will be comprised of 331 close-packed hexagonal mirror segments. Each segment will be controlled to nanometer-scale tolerances in rotation (tilt) and surface normal translation (piston) using electrostatic actuators. The architecture used in the micromirror design and fabrication processes used, are scaleable to array sizes up to 1027 mirror segments with 3081 independent control points. The completed device will be delivered to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for evaluation in the High Contrast Imaging Testbed.

If successful, this project will result in enabling hardware for wavefront control, as needed for starlight canceling coronagraphic instruments. The Phase I project demonstrated actuator designs and mirror segment manufacturing processes that were capable of meeting the unprecedented demands of such instruments with regard to segment optical quality, segment planarity during actuation, and actuation precision and range. In the Phase II effort, these designs and processes will be used to produce a functional, packaged micromirror array that will meet the immediate wavefront control needs for visible nulling coronagraphic testbed instrument. The device is being designed and fabricated to be suitable for space-based operation as part of a future observatory mission.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed technology will be a useful tool for the Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission. It will be particularly suitable for insertion in the High Contrast Imaging Testbed (HCIT) at JPL. One built-in capability of HCIT is to test alternative coronagraph concepts developed under industry and university contracts. The modularity of HCIT allows integration of guest user modules such as the proposed ÁDM. The proposed mirror will be designed specifically to be compatible with HCIT. It is expected that success of this work will lead to further evaluation of MEMS DMs in science and technology missions that precede and follow TPF. All but one of the seven precursor missions calls for active optics. It is expected that deformable mirror technology will play an ever-increasing role in astronomical imaging systems, as competing requirements for increased resolution and lighter weight primary mirrors push the technology forward. Another area that the proposed technology will have an application at NASA is for the Extrasolar Planet Imaging Coronograph (EPIC) Discovery Mission. This program has been proposed and is currently being reviewed. EPIC will image and characterize extrasolar giant planets in orbits with semi-major axes between 2 and 6 AU. A requirement for this mission is a pair of hexagonal micro-mirror arrays similar to the technology proposed in this project.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The processing technology developed in this program will allow the future development of deformable mirrors for non-NASA applications as well. Ultra-flat highly reflective mirror surfaces are required for a number of commercial applications. Examples of these applications include high power lasers and optical lithography. Leaders in both of these markets are currently exploring the use of adaptive optics to enhance performance of their optical systems. There is currently no commercially available deformable mirror capable of producing the high quality wavefront that could be achieved using the proposed mirror technology.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Multifunctional/Smart Materials

Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04