Boston Micromachines get $1.2 million award from NASA to develop deformable mirror for exoplanet-finding coronograph

June 10, 2011
Adaptive-optics maker Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) has been awarded $1.2 million in contracts by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) to support space-based high-contrast exoplanet detection.

Cambridge, MA--Adaptive-optics maker Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) has been awarded $1.2 million in contracts by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) to support space-based high-contrast exoplanet detection. The Phase II contracts were awarded after the successful completion of Phase I projects. Boston Micromachines' adaptive-optics products are based on microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS)-actuated deformable mirrors.

The first Phase II project is to develop compact, ultralow-power, high-voltage multiplexed drive electronics suitable for integration with Boston Micromachines' deformable mirrors in space-based adaptive-optics applications. This project will scale up the driver circuit for deformable mirrors that the company developed previously for NASA in support of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission. The project aims for a tenfold reduction in size and power and a significant decrease in interconnection complexity while maintaining high precision.

The second Phase II project is the design and fabrication of a MEMS micromirror array with 1021 ultraflat, close-packed hexagonal mirror elements and λ100 optical quality. Each segment is capable of tip, tilt, and piston motion with subnanometer precision as required for a space-based telescope using a hypercontrast visible nulling coronagraph for finding Earth-sized exoplanets.

"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 DM 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 info, see www.bostonmicromachines.com.

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About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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