NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S3.04-8872
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Large-Aperture Lightweight Cryogenic Telescope Components and Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Low-Cost, Silicon Carbide Replication Technique for LWIR Mirror Fabrication

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
SSG Inc
65 Jonspin Road
Wilmington, MA 01887-1020
(978)694-9991

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jay Schwartz
jschwartz@ssginc.com
65 Jonspin Road
Wilmington, MA 01887-1020
(978)694-9991

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
SSG proposes an innovative optical manufacturing approach that will enable the low-cost fabrication of lightweighted, Long Wave Infrared (LWIR) Silicon Carbide (SiC) mirror substrates. The approach proposed is a modification of SSG's slip casting forming process which has been demonstrated to produce aggressively lightweighted SiC optics. We propose to improve the process by applying innovative tooling that will allow us to replicate optical surfaces directly onto the SiC optics during the forming process. This approach will eliminate the costly and time consuming machining and polishing processes associated with traditional optical fabrication. The replication process we propose is different from standard replication processes in that it does not require any epoxy bonding layers. The final product will be as durable as traditional, monolithic SiC mirrors, and in this way will be suitable for space borne application. In Phase I we propose to produce a number of witness samples using the proposed forming process. Initially we intend to produce optical surfaces suitable for the 20 ? 40 micron waveband. The technology proposed will enable the production of large optical surfaces in a cost-effective manner, enabling multi-meter, deployable, LWIR optical systems, similar to JWST.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Direct applications of the developed fabrication process will include medium to large aperture (greater than 1 m segments) long-wave (~20 micron wavelength) telescopes. The process can also be applied as a modification of current optical manufacturing flow to reduce or eliminate a rough machining or grinding step in preparation of the optical substrate. In this manner, successful completion of Phase 1 and 2 may lead to reduced cost and schedule on a range of optical instruments including visible quality telescopes.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The low-cost mirror fabrication approach proposed will reduce the cost of IR quality SiC optics, making them suitable for a number of commercial and government applications. Commercial applications include infra-red surveillance optical systems, and infra-red spectral analysis sensors for in-situ process control and pollution monitoring.