NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 S2.05-9744
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Optics Manufacturing and Metrology for Telescope Optical Surfaces
PROPOSAL TITLE: The Affordable Pre-Finishing of Silicon Carbide for Optical Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Creare Inc
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755 - 3116
(603) 643-3800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jay Rozzi
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755 - 0071
(603) 643-3800

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Large aperture, lightweight optical mirror technologies are critical for the future of lightweight telescopes and their attendant missions to explore the planets in our solar system and beyond. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) coated silicon carbide (SiC) has been shown to be a viable alternative for lightweight mirrors due to its thermal stability; however, cost-effective manufacturing techniques to pre-finish this material have not been sufficiently developed. During the Phase I project, we established the feasibility of the low-rate step of our hybrid machining approach by successfully completing ductile-regime machining (DRM) of CVD SiC. We were able to produce a surface that had a roughness of a near-optical quality. We established key partnerships that will enable the development of the high rate machining step and demonstrated that our hybrid machining approach will reduce the cost of fabricating a finished mirror by up to 46% when compared with the current state-of-the-art. During the Phase II project, we will work further to develop our hybrid machining process, demonstrate it on a large scale optic, and deliver it to NASA.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The government seeks a means to affordably produce lightweight aspheric optics from super-hard ceramic materials. Large aperture, lightweight, optical mirror technologies are critical for the future of telescopes to explore the solar system and beyond. Silicon carbide, silicon, and silicon nitride have been shown to be viable alternatives for lightweight mirrors; however, cost-effective manufacturing techniques to machine these materials have not been developed in parallel. The pre-finishing process prepares the net-shape blank for final optical finishing. Current processes, such as diamond grinding, reactive atom plasma processing, or standard laser micromachining have not demonstrated that they can produce damage-free surfaces of sufficient optical figure or form accuracy. The use of our innovation can substantially reduce the cost of these optics and enable the increased functionality of new and existing platforms. The results of our work would have far-reaching benefits for government aircraft and military systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Cost-effectively manufacturing super-hard ceramics has always been the primary barrier to commercial acceptance of this advanced material technology. For many applications, ceramic materials offer significant advantages over other options, but their cost precludes their consideration in design. Effective and affordable manufacturing processes are required to render ceramics as a viable design option. For silicon carbide, our innovation will enable the machining of this material to a high quality and with an intricate shape. Thus, we will enable a paradigm shift in the machining of super-hard optical ceramics, along with the concomitant decrease in processing costs. This will increase the market for such materials in commercial aircraft, automobiles, cutting tools, artificial joints, and various other applications.

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.

Optical & Photonic Materials

Form Generated on 10-23-08 13:36