Boston Micromachines Awarded Grant from NASA for Space Imaging Research
BMC to Develop Reliability Improvements in MEMS Deformable Mirrors for Imaging of Earth-Sized Extra-Solar Planets
Cambridge, Mass., May 7, 2012 – Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC), a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror (DM) products and adaptive optics systems, announced today that it has been 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. DMs 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.”
This Phase II award is part of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research programs. The highly competitive programs afford small businesses the chance to propose unique ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the government. The criteria used to select the winning proposals included technical merit and innovation, Phase I results, value to NASA, commercial potential and company capabilities.