NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 S2.02-9032
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronagraphy
PROPOSAL TITLE: 10^3 Segment MEMS Deformable-Mirror Process Development

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 Helmbrecht
2680 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704 - 1717
(510) 849-2375

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 2 to 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Iris AO will extend its proven segmented MEMS deformable mirror architecture to large array sizes required for high-contrast astrophysical imagers. Current implementations consist of arrays of 37 mirror segments (currently available commercially) and 163 segment arrays (first prototypes under test). Existing thin-film based MEMS fabrication techniques used by competitors typically can not achieve an adequate degree of optical flatness and maintain it over a range of temperatures. Even newer thick-film methods suffer from the same problem to some degree. The Iris AO segmented mirror approach, on the other hand, uses a thick and rigid single-crystal-silicon optical surface bonded to an electrostatically driven actuator platform. This results in excellent mirror flatness and insensitivity to temperature even when specialized optical coatings are used. This proposal addresses scaling this technology up to 10^3 segments. Key technical issues to be addressed in accommodating the larger number of segments include: (a) controlling overall bow of the larger chip; (b) developing the electrical interconnect design and fabrication process, and (c) modifying the mirror-wafer bonding process. This Phase I will include one process run in order to test and refine the proposed solutions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
High-contrast astrophysical imagers benefit from high-precision deformable mirrors with 10^3 or more segments. NASA missions and instruments benefiting from improved large actuator-count DMs include the single aperture far-infrared observatory (SAFIR), the Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC), the Extrasolar Planetary Imaging Coronagraph (EPIC), the Eclipse mission, and the deferred Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF-C). Other NASA projects that would benefit from Iris AO deformable mirror technology are the Submillimeter Probe of the Evolutionary Cosmic Structure (SPECS), the Stellar Imager (SI) and the Earth Atmospheric Solar occultation Imager (EASI), among others. Additionally, NASA is involved in the application of AO to many of the world's large terrestrial telescopes such as Palomar Adaptive Optics System (PALAO), built by JPL, the Keck interferometer, and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Micromachined deformable mirrors (DMs) are particularly useful in correcting atmospheric turbulence. Applications include both ground-based and airborne imaging systems. As in the case of NASA applications, the MEMS approach offers small size, low weight, and low power consumption. Specific applications include: free-space communication optical links, deformable-mirror based optical zoom, and correction of aero-optical aberrations. The small size of MEMS DMs makes then a natural choice for adaptive-optic (AO) correction of the aberrations in the eye and for biological microscopes.

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.

Large Antennas and Telescopes
Ultra-High Density/Low Power

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:56