NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S2.04-8440
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Optical Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Subaperture Stitching Interferometry for Large Convex Aspheric Surfaces

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
QED Technologies, Inc.
1040 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607-1239

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paul Murphy, Ph.D.
1040 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607-1239

The size and accuracy specifications of telescope mirrors are ever more demanding. This is particularly true for secondary mirrors, as they are convex and thus require large-aperture optics to test them. Subaperture stitching has the potential to provide accurate high-resolution maps of large-aperture aspheric optics without the use of dedicated nulls. QED has already developed the subaperture stitching interferometer (SSI), which combines a vertical workstation with a commercially-available 4" or 6" interferometer. Nanometer-level accuracies have been obtained on spherical optics by optimally compensating subaperture placement errors, as well as automatically calibrating for systematic errors such as reference wave error and distortion. Non-null capability is enhanced since the individual subapertures have significantly less aspheric departure. However, the system is currently only capable of testing up to 280 mm optics of mild asphericity. This proposal focuses on innovations for leveraging these considerable benefits of stitching (high resolution, automatic calibration, and flexible aspheric testing) to larger and more aspheric optics. Activities will include novel stitching strategies to calibrate for gravitational deformations, adaptive asphere calibration methods, specialised platform designs, and subscale testing. This will enable more cost-effective production of convex secondary mirrors and facilitate the testing of long-radius concaves, and even of assembled systems).

Successful completion of this work will significantly enhance the efficiency, capability, and flexibility of large-aperture aspheric testing, particularly for convex surfaces, but also including monolithic and segmented concave surfaces. Many NASA programs that depend on large-optics fabrication and testing would benefit. These include (a) Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) programs for space-based, large-aperture telescopes that look far into space, (b) Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) programs for airborne or space-based instruments that image the Earth and (c) Sun-Earth Connection (SEC) programs for UV & EUV imaging of the Sun and its interaction with the Solar System.

In addition to many ground-based telescopes (e.g., CELT, GMST, VLOT), successful completion of this work could benefit other industries that require large, high precision, optical surfaces. This includes lithography systems (that have some of the most demanding commercial optical specifications), commercial satellite and surveillance systems, and large aperture DoD applications.