NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 S2.02-8177
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronagraphy
PROPOSAL TITLE: Nanostructured Super-Black Optical Materials

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
179 Bear Hill Road
Waltham, MA 02451 - 1063
(781) 609-2722

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David L Carnahan
179 Bear Hill Road
Waltham, MA 02451 - 1063
(781) 609-2722

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA faces difficulties in imaging and characterizing faint astrophysical objects within the glare of brighter stellar sources. Achieving a very low background requires control of both scattered and diffracted light. Aligned arrays of carbon nanotubes have recently been recognized as having world-leading optical absorption, far above competing state of the art materials. The GSFC team noted that nanotube arrays have the "potential to provide order-of-magnitude improvement over current surface treatments and a resulting factor of 10,000 reduction in stray light when applied to an entire optical train." While excellent performers, NanoLab recognizes that the nuances of the array structure, such as angular alignment, diameter, length, and top-surface roughness of the array play a major role in their optical properties, and these need to be characterized if we wish to control and tailor these materials for specific applications. Further, the arrays grown to date are often poorly adhered to their substrates, which are typically silicon. NanoLab plans to develop processes grow arrays on flexible, tougher substrates such as Ti and stainless steel foils, so they can be formed and inserted into optical systems without damage. We will correlate the VIS-IR optical properties to the array structure and to the process parameters that generate them.
Ball Aerospace will assist NanoLab in this effort with BRDF and other optical measurements.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Together, NASA, NanoLab and Ball will push this material through a series of qualification tests so it can be used as an aerospace optical coating. Apart from optical coatings, the aligned arrays have also been demonstrated in the laboratory as:
Dry adhesives (gecko-foot),Electrodes (ultracapacitors, batteries, fuel cells),Thermal interface materials, Field emitters (cathodes, electric propulsion, x-ray sources),Optical antennas, &Chemical-biological sensors
We expect that an aligned array manufacturing system, once implemented would be able to serve this number of additional markets, which we will explore.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Terrestrial, non-space qualified applications will likely be commercialized first. The first product we anticipate is a reference optical black, for calibration of spectrometers, pryometers and the like. Other optically black devices include laser beam dumps, black body emitters, etc.

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.)
Coatings/Surface Treatments
Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)
Telescope Arrays
Thermal Imaging (see also Testing & Evaluation)

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43