NASA chooses Boston Micromachines for two Phase I space-imaging projects

January 6, 2010--Boston Micromachines Corporation (Cambridge, MA), which provides MEMS (microelectromechanical systems)-based deformable-mirror products for adaptive-optics systems, has been selected by NASA for two Phase 1 contracts. NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) awarded Boston Micromachines approximately $200,000 in contracts to further space-imaging research. Boston Micromachines projects were chosen from more than 1,600 proposals.

In the first Phase 1 project, Boston Micromachines will develop a compact, ultra-low-power, high-voltage multiplexed driver suitable for integration with the company's deformable mirrors in space-based wavefront-control applications. This project, a collaboration between Boston Micromachines and Boston University (Boston, MA), aims for a driver to be produced with a minimum hundredfold reduction in power consumption and a tenfold reduction in size while maintaining high precision and decreasing cost and interconnection complexity.

The second Phase 1 project is an enhanced fabrication development process for high-actuator-count deformable mirrors which are required for wavefront control in space-based high-contrast imaging instruments. This manufacturing process will overcome the current scalability issues associated with fabricated polysilicon surface micromachined MEMS deformable mirrors. By expanding the size of deformable-mirror devices, space imaging instruments will be able to collect more light and shape its wavefront using less hardware and less stages.

Paul Bierden, president and co-founder of Boston Micromachines, commented that the two SBIRs were the seventh and eighth awarded to the company by NASA. Bierden also noted the importance of the technology to the search for extrasolar planets, which has emerged as a compelling long-term scientific goal for NASA.

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--posted by John Wallace, johnw@pennwell.com

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