MEMS deformable mirror grant from NASA awarded to BMC for exoplanet imaging

May 22, 2012
Cambridge, MA--Boston Micromachines Corporation was awarded a Phase II SBIR for $750,000 to support NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program.

Cambridge, MA--Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based deformable mirror (DM) products and adaptive optics systems provider Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) was awarded a Phase II contract for $750,000 by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) to support NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program. The Phase II contract was awarded after BMC successfully completed its Phase I project and will expand upon those results of increased reliability.

One of NASA's core objectives is to search for earth-sized planets outside of our solar system, called exoplanets. Deformable mirros play a key role in space-based imaging as they are used to correct the residual aberrations that space telescope optics cannot address. Instruments in space-based imaging have unique reliability challenges due to the harsh environment in which they operate; DMs are subject to ionizing radiation which can cause instability in the voltages that drive the DM. This grant will enable Boston Micromachines to construct a 2048 actuator, continuous facesheet MEMS DM with enhanced reliability to handle the harsh environments, advancing the development of space-based high contrast imaging instruments.

"Boston Micromachines' MEMS DMs have enabled great performance and operation in high contrast imaging testbeds. This new program will demonstrate the ability of our devices to operate reliably in unstable environments similar to those in space," said Paul Bierden, president and co-founder of Boston Micromachines. "We are pleased that NASA continues to value and support our mirror technology for its future missions in the study of earth-like planets."

SOURCE: Boston Micromachines; www.bostonmicromachines.com/press_nasa_reliability.htm

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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