NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Lidar Remote Sensing
PROPOSAL TITLE:Precision Membrane Optical Shell (PMOS) Technology for RF/Microwave to Lightweight LIDAR Apertures

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
1121 San Antonio Rd, Suite B-100-B
Palo Alto, CA 94303-4311
(650) 965-4912

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Eric   Flint
1121 San Antonio Rd, Suite B-100-B
Palo Alto, CA  94303-4311
(650) 965-4912

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Membrane Optical Shell Technology (MOST) is an innovative combination of 1) very low areal density (40 to 200g/m2) optically smooth (<20 nm rms), metallic coated reflective membrane thin films, 2) advanced fabrication techniques that transform the films into self supporting shells through the introduction of permanent optically relevant double curvature, and 3) discrete active boundary control to enable rigid body alignment and maintainment of surface figure in face of environmental disturbances. Areal densities of better than 2 kg/m2 (including actuators) are projected. Current measured surface figure is ≈1 to 10 microns rms at up to the 15 cm size, and we are poised for further improvements. Demonstrated material and fabrication techniques are scaleable to at least the 2m+ diameter single surface apertures and larger apertures are possible through segmentation techniques. Proven stowage and deployment techniques enable space flight application. We propose advancing 1) the basic fabrication technology and 2) the TRL level of MOST apertures for ground and space based apertures. The key resulting innovation is implementation of low areal density, compact roll stowable approaches to realize low mass, low cost reflective apertures for RF/Microwave to LIDAR. Other NASA and DOD applications are expected as precision and aperture size increase.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The potential pay off of the proposed research can be summarized at the highest level as, "Less Mass, Less Cost" reflective doubly curved apertures. The proposed research is directly applicable to the needs of ground, air and space based LIDAR applications, as it could lead to significant cost, time, and mass reductions for optical primary mass, especially as aperture size grows to support faster sample times. Once flight proven, the same basic aperture approach and material/coating combinations will be immediately transitionable to RF and incoherent Laser Comm applications, as well as possible microwave science applications, since all have similar or less restrictive surface figure requirements. Farther term, we see potential synergistic applications in the area of 1) very large diameter stowable/deployable apertures to enable RF, mm, IR (Far, Middle, and Near (with suitable cooling), science, and 2) increasing larger diameter precision apertures to enable visible wavelength spectroscopy, and potentially imaging astronomy. Potential uses as components in solar concentrators for orbital power generation and solar thermal propulsion, and as sun shields and telescope aperture opening shields are also envisaged.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This is a crosscutting technology that has many potential spin-off applications both for NASA and other Govt. and commercial organizations. NASA Applications have been discussed above. In the space arena, for other organizations applications for doubly curved reflective apertures exist from the RF Comm to Laser Comm and Earth Observation (both spectroscopic and imaging). As coatings become more efficient, directed energy applications are possible as well. Terrestriall, laser comm terminals, spotting telescopes and extended range laser designators are forseeen. Backpackable RF comm apertures for emergency and remote location applications are possible as well. Additional terrestrial market applications are seen in the area of solar concentrators for emergency water purification/heating, cooking, and power generation. As surface figure precision increases apertures for prosumer grade amateur astronomy and then secondaries and segmented primaries for intermediate sized professional/university class telescopes are envisaged.

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.

Beamed Energy
Large Antennas and Telescopes
Multifunctional/Smart Materials
Optical & Photonic Materials
Photovoltaic Conversion
Renewable Energy
Thermodynamic Conversion
Wireless Distribution

Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04