Boston Micromachines successfully delivers high actuator count MEMS deformable mirror to NASA and continues development for the WFIRST program

Boston Micromachines (BMC), a provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror (DM) products for adaptive optics systems, announced that it has successfully delivered the world’s first fully-functioning 2040 element MEMS deformable mirror as part of a NASA Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) contract, monitored by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), to develop DM technology needed for exo-planet imaging on the next generation space-based telescopes.

In addition, the NASA SBIR Program has extended the contract through its Phase II-X program to have BMC deliver additional devices for evaluation and potential inclusion in the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) program. The II-X is jointly funded by NASA SBIR and by WFIRST.

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The goal of the SBIR project was to develop new manufacturing approaches for small-stroke, high precision DMs scalable to 8,000 or more actuators. The proposed design study promises inherent advantages in scalability, yield, and reliability compared to the current generation of MEMS DMs. The success of the project prompted an evaluation of the hardware as a possible alternative to the current DM technology currently baselined for WFIRST.

The development efforts and experience gained through the delivery of additional devices serve as a stepping stone towards the eventual production of even higher actuator count DMs for applications in space-based and ground-based telescopes. Manufacturing process advancements from these projects will also be applicable across the BMC portfolio.

We are proud of this recent technological accomplishment and are excited to continue the development of the optics needed for future space missions. NASA’s extension of the contract to evaluate our technology for potential inclusion in the WFIRST-CGI mission is also a point of pride for the entire BMC team,” said Paul Bierden, president of Boston Micromachines. “We are pleased that NASA continues to support our mirror technology and its role in the future of direct exoplanet detection.

The contracts are part of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. These highly competitive programs afford small businesses and other entities the chance to propose unique ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the government. The criteria used to choose these winning proposals include technical merit and feasibility, experience, effectiveness of the work plan and commercial potential.