NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 S2.02-9446
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronagraphy
PROPOSAL TITLE: Picometer-Resolution MEMS Segmented DM

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Iris AO, Inc.
2680 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704 - 1717
(510) 849-2375

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael A Helmbrecht
2680 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704 - 1717
(510) 849-2375

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology has the potential to create deformable mirrors (DM) with 10^4 actuators that have size, weight, and power specifications that are far lower than conventional piezoelectric and electrostrictive DMs. However, building a MEMS DM with a relatively large aperture that is flat in the unpowered state is challenging. Currently, a large portion of the mirror stroke must be used to flatten the MEMS DMs and in some cases, the DM stroke is not even sufficient to flatten the mirror. In the case of the large-stroke segmented MEMS DMs manufactured by Iris AO, there is sufficient stroke for wavefront correction after flattening. However, the resolution is significantly reduced because the dynamic range of the digital-to-analog converters (DAC) used to operate the DM is spread over multiple microns of stroke rather than the 0.5 ┬Ám range required to correct for aberrations in the telescope that feeds the coronagraph.

This Phase I SBIR will make substantial improvements in the fabrication process of MEMS segmented DMs that reduce the deleterious residual surface-figure errors. It will do so by systematically addressing the sources of the segment position variations as well as addressing low-spatial frequency chip bow that can result in large peak-to-valley deformations across the DM array. The Iris AO DM architecture will also be modified to enable picometer resolution actuation with ultra-precision drive electronics.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The DM architecture developed here is a perfect match for visible nulling coronagraphs (VNC) that were studied for ATLAST, DAViNCI, and EPIC. In addition to the VNC, Iris AO technology can be a key enabling component in a host of future NASA missions that include Space Astronomy Far Infrared Telescope (SAFIR) Life Finder, and Planet Imager. Other potential programs such as Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) and ultraviolet telescopes will also require adaptive optics. Finally, ground based telescopes, like the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), Keck, and Gemini North & South, require adaptive optics to remove aberrations caused by air turbulence.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In addition to NASA systems, the proposed adaptive-optics technology would find immediate application in several military communications and imaging products. Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) both are interested in satellite AO. Systems used in military surveillance such as in the Predator drone and Global Hawk would benefit from the high-resolution, light weight, and low power consumption afforded by Iris AO's MEMS. Military contractors including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Boeing have also shown significant interest in using Iris AO technology for long range imaging through turbulent air. The thick mirror segments can be coated with dielectric coatings and are thus useful for laser-guidestar uplink corrections and beam shaping for laser machining. The DMs can also be used to correct horizontal-path aberrations for free-space laser communication links and reconnaissance. The segmented architecture is well suited for coupling beams to fibers for high-power lasers and fiber-based spectrographs.

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
Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) and smaller
Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12