The proposed innovation is a segmented, micromachined deformable mirror (DM) that can compensate tip-tilt-piston (TTP) positioning and stability errors of a segmented space-based primary mirror. This effort responds directly to the NASA FY2018 SBIR/STTR General Solicitation, Focus Area 10: Advanced Telescope Technologies, Subtopic S2.01: Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Direct Detection. This subtopic focuses on new technological developments that are needed for exoplanet direct imaging, and specifically identifies wavefront measurement and control technologies as a key need. The core subject of this proposal is to develop a technology that is identified as critical in this subtopic: small-stroke, high-precision deformable mirrors and associated driving electronics. The solicitation specifically calls for a “Deformable, calibrated, collimating source to simulate the telescope front end of a coronagraph undergoing thermal deformations.” The proposed DM would have complementary uses for both simulating the front end of a coronagraph (as a surrogate for its primary) and precisely compensating wavefront errors in the front end of an actual coronagraph. High-precision deformable mirrors have applications relative to multiple NASA needs. Commercialization opportunities in astronomy and space science include both space telescopes such as the Large UV/Optical/Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) and Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) telescopes. The DM architectures to be developed in this project also have commercial applications in non-government markets, including space surveillance and biological microscopy. In the microscopy market especially, the TTP DM has become a commercial product used in two photon nonlinear microscopes through the pioneering efforts of Na Ji at Howard Hughes Medical Insitute’s Janelia Research Campus.
High-actuator-count deformable mirrors (DMs) have a few NASA applications. The following applications apply to all BMC DMs that benefit from processes developed for this program.
Astronomy: For space telescopes, a number of missions require the control provided by the proposed DMs such as LUVOIR and HabEx. For ground-based telescopes, BMC has successfully developed arrays up to 4096 elements for GPI and other high contrast imaging testbeds and can achieve similar results for other new ELTs.
The deformable mirrors (DMs) developed in this project have a few commercial applications and apply to all BMC DMs benefitting from processes developed for this program.
Space surveillance and optical comms would benefit from this new architecture for long-range imaging and secure communication. Microscopy Users would benefit in modalities such as multi-photon, 4Pi and localization microscopy. Finally, DM arrays will enable new techniques for laser marking, material ablation and characterization.