NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 S2.02-8461
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronagraphy
PROPOSAL TITLE: Enhanced Reliability MEMS Deformable Mirrors for Space Imaging Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Boston Micromachines Corporation
30 Spinelli Place
Cambridge, MA 02138 - 1070
(617) 868-4178

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Steven A. Cornelissen
30 Spinelli Place
Cambridge, MA 02138 - 1070
(617) 868-4178 Extension :207

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate a reliable, fault-tolerant wavefront control system that will fill a critical technology gap in NASA's vision for future coronagraphic observatories. The project outcomes include innovative advances in component design and fabrication and substantial progress in development of high-resolution deformable mirrors (DM) suitable for space-based operation.

Space-based telescopes have become indispensible in advancing the frontiers of astrophysics. Over the past decade NASA has pioneered coronagraphic instrument concepts and test beds to provide a foundation for exploring feasibility of new approaches to high-contrast imaging and spectroscopy. From this work, NASA has identified a current technology need for compact, ultra-precise, multi-thousand actuator DM devices.
Boston Micromachines Corporation has developed microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) DMs that represent the state-of-the-art for scalable, small-stroke high-precision wavefront control. The emerging class of high-resolution DMs pioneered by the project team has already been shown to be compact, low-power, precise, and repeatable.
This project will develop a system that eliminates the leading cause of single actuator failures in electrostatically-actuated wavefront correctors – snap-through instability and subsequent electrode shorting and/or adhesion. To achieve this we will implement two innovative, complementary modifications to the manufacturing process. We will develop a drive electronics approach that inherently limits actuator electrical current density generated when actuator snap-down occurs, and we will modify the actuator design to mitigate adhesion between contacting surfaces of the actuator flexure and fixed base electrode in the event of snap-down.
Phase II research will combine the actuator design and fabrication processes, and current-limiting drive electronics to produce a MEMS DM with 3072 actuators with enhanced reliability.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Space based astronomical imaging systems are inherently challenged by the need to achieve diffraction-limited performance with relatively lightweight optical components. Given the current constraints on fabrication methods, it is necessary to develop new methods of manufacture to increase reliability and prevent single actuator failures. These higher-quality deformable mirrors will enable diffraction-limited performance for many space-based optical systems such as space-based observatories, interferometric telescopes and coronagraphic instruments for programs such as EPIC, TPF-C, TPF-I and PECO. By providing wavefront control and correcting for static and thermally induced aberrations of larger optics in a space-based optical platform, the use of a space-qualified MEMS DM will result in a significant performance improvement. Producing a more reliable and robust MEMS DM will also have a significant benefit for non-space-based optical instruments. BMC has had success developing arrays up to 4096 elements for the Gemini Planet Imager and with further research can achieve fewer actuator failures during the manufacturing process and better reliability during use.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
A universal benefit to all applications is a reliable MEMS device that can withstand voltage spikes and environmental changes that currently still cause failure in MEMS DMs, which in turn leads to more effective correction capabilities and longer device use in the field. Also, given the higher yield, manufacturing costs can be reduced. In addition, the following hold true for each individual application:

1) Optical communication: For long-range secure communication, large amounts of data can be sent over long distances using lasercomm systems. By creating more reliable deformable mirrors, deformable mirrors can better correct for atmospheric aberrations.

2) Pulse-shaping: Pulsed lasers are used in a variety of applications from material characterization to laser marking and machining. By creating arrays with fewer failed actuators, control of the pulsed beams can be enhanced, leading to a more shaped beam. This will allow scientists to better understand the composition of materials and allow manufacturers to make more precise, complex patterns.

3) Biological imaging/ vision science: For the imaging field, mirrors become almost ineffective if actuator failure occurs due to the smaller required size of the arrays. Therefore, fewer imaging instruments will need replacement mirrors due to actuator failure.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Adaptive Optics
Image Capture (Stills/Motion)
Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) and smaller
Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)
Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE; NDT)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12