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NASA Awards Contracts to Boston Micromachines

Photonics.com
Jun 2011
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 9, 2011 — Boston Micromachines Corp. has been awarded $1.2 million by NASA to develop compact, ultralow-power, high-voltage multiplexed drive electronics suitable for integration with the company’s deformable mirrors in space-based wavefront control applications. The award represents part of a second phase of an ongoing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Boston Micromachines is a provider of MEMS-based deformable mirrors for adaptive optics systems,

The first Phase II project will scale up the innovative driver circuit for deformable mirrors that Boston Micromachines developed previously for NASA in support of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission. The project aims for an order of magnitude reduction in size and power and a significant decrease in interconnection complexity, while maintaining the high precision required for high-contrast exoplanet detection.

The second Phase II project is the design and fabrication of a MEMS micromirror array consisting of 1021 ultraflat, close-packed hexagonal mirror elements. Each segment is capable of tip, tilt and piston motion with subnanometer precision as required for a space-based telescope using a hypercontrast coronagraph for terrestrial planet finding.

The micromachined deformable mirror will be fabricated using innovative manufacturing processes and micromirror optoelectromechanical designs that were demonstrated successfully in previous NASA-funded efforts. This large array of mirror segments with three degrees of freedom and λ/100 optical quality would constitute a significant technological advance and would become an enabling component for high contrast visible nulling coronagraph instruments planned for exoplanet imaging missions.

“High-resolution wavefront correction with deformable mirrors is essential for all telescope architectures to be used in NASA’s ongoing search for extrasolar planets. However, a new generation of deformable mirror systems are required to be compatible with the size, weight and power constraints of space-based telescopes,” said Paul Bierden, president and co-founder of Boston Micromachines.

For more information, visit: www.bostonmicromachines.com  



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