Cambridge, MA, United States
Cambridge, MA, United States

Boston Micromachines Corporation is a US company operating out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Boston Micromachines manufactures and develops MEMS deformable mirrors to perform open- and closed- loop adaptive optics. The technology is applied in Beam Shaping, Astronomy, Vision Science, Retinal Imaging, general Microscopy and supports national defense; any application in need of wavefront manipulation. Wikipedia.


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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.81K | Year: 2011

This proposal describes a new concept to drive MEMS DMs using low-power, high-voltage multiplexing. Compared to other reported approaches, the proposed architecture will reduce power consumption by a factor of one hundred, to a level of a few hundred milliwatts. This estimate is supported by direct measurements obtained from prototype modules that were demonstrated in Phase I research.In the Phase II project we will scale up this innovative circuit DMs that Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) developed for NASA in support of the Terrestrial Planet Finding program. At the same time, we will reduce the driver's size in two successive stages of integration. In the first stage, we will implement a hybrid packaging approach in which a 993-actuator DM, HV amplifier, multiplexer components, and power supplies will all be co-located on a common multi-layered circuit board. With this driver we will demonstrate both low power consumption (~300mW) and high precision (~10pm). In the second stage of integration, we will design, fabricate, and test a High Voltage Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (HV-ASIC) version of the multiplexing architecture using a commercial foundry. We will combine a number of these 256 channel HV-ASIC modules into a driver for a 3063 actuator DM that is currently being developed by BMC to support NASA's coronography goals.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.18K | Year: 2012

This project will develop and demonstrate an innovative microfabrication process to substantially improve the surface quality achievable in high-resolution continuous membrane MEMS deformable mirrors (DMs). Project specific aims include 2X improvement in small-scale surface flatness in comparison to the current state-of-the-art, and substantial reductions in sub-aperture scale diffractive losses due to actuator print-through, mirror scallop, and etch access hole scatter in continuous membrane MEMS DMs. Such wavefront control devices will fill a critical technology gap in NASA's vision for high-contrast, high-resolution space based imaging and spectroscopy instruments. Space-based telescopes have become indispensible in advancing the frontiers of astrophysics. Over the past decade NASA has pioneered coronagraphic instrument concepts and test beds to provide a foundation for exploring feasibility of new approaches to high-contrast imaging and spectroscopy. From this work, NASA has identified a current technology need for compact, ultra-precise, multi-thousand actuator DM devices. Boston Micromachines Corporation has developed microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) DMs that represents the state-of-the-art for scalable, small-stroke high-precision wavefront control. The emerging class of high-resolution DMs pioneered by the project team has already been shown to be compact, low-power, precise, and repeatable. These DMs can be currently produced with uncorrectable shape errors as small as 10nm root mean square (rms). These residual shape errors on the DM are mostly periodic and act essentially as a grating, producing diffraction spikes in the image plane. In the proposed project, we will develop processes and manufacturing innovations that collectively reduce or eliminate these shape errors through improved chemo-mechanical polishing, stress compensation film deposition, and elimination of etch access holes, resulting in a MEMS DM with unprecedented surface quality.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 747.98K | Year: 2012

The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate a reliable, fault-tolerant wavefront control system that will fill a critical technology gap in NASA's vision for future coronagraphic observatories. The project outcomes include innovative advances in component design and fabrication and substantial progress in development of high-resolution deformable mirrors (DM) suitable for space-based operation. Space-based telescopes have become indispensible in advancing the frontiers of astrophysics. Over the past decade NASA has pioneered coronagraphic instrument concepts and test beds to provide a foundation for exploring feasibility of new approaches to high-contrast imaging and spectroscopy. From this work, NASA has identified a current technology need for compact, ultra-precise, multi-thousand actuator DM devices. Boston Micromachines Corporation has developed microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) DMs that represent the state-of-the-art for scalable, small-stroke high-precision wavefront control. The emerging class of high-resolution DMs pioneered by the project team has already been shown to be compact, low-power, precise, and repeatable. This project will develop a system that eliminates the leading cause of single actuator failures in electrostatically-actuated wavefront correctors – snap-through instability and subsequent electrode shorting and/or adhesion. To achieve this we will implement two innovative, complementary modifications to the manufacturing process that were proven successful in Phase I. We will develop a drive electronics approach that inherently limits actuator electrical current density generated when actuator snap-down occurs, and we will modify the actuator design to mitigate adhesion between contacting surfaces of the actuator flexure and fixed base electrode in the event of snap-down. This project will results in a MEMS DM with 2048 actuators and enhanced reliability driven by current-limiting drive electronics.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.84K | Year: 2015

The project team will conduct processing and design research aimed at improving yield, performance, and reliability of high-actuator-count micro-electro-mechanical deformable mirrors (MEMS DMs) that are essential for space-based coronograph instruments. The primary objectives of this Phase I proposal are to develop and demonstrate solutions to the two main problems that BMC has encountered in scaling up its DM design and manufacturing processes to array sizes of 4000 actuators or more: (1) keyhole voids occurring during manufacturing (reducing manufacturing yield) and (2) dielectric breakdown occurring during device operation (causing irreversible damage to the device). The technical approach will involve changes in DM processing technology and actuator geometry, and these will be validated in an abbreviated fabrication run at a MEMS foundry. The project goals are responsive to NASA Solicitation Topic S2.01, Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronography, which calls for research on process technology needed to improve repeatability, yield, and performance precision of high precision DMs. Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) is currently a leading supplier of such DMs worldwide. If successful, this project will result in a modified process technology for DM production that eliminates manufacturing yield losses due to keyhole voids while improving DM surface quality. It will also result in a modified DM actuator design that is far less susceptible to operational damage due to dielectric breakdown, improving both reliability and lifetime.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2015

This proposal describes the design and manufacture of large modulating retro-reflectors (MRR) using Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) based optical modulators. In the proposed MRR device, a micromachined deformable mirror will serve as one facet of a corner cube retro-reflector which will allow intensity modulation of the retro-reflected beam. A characteristic of the MEMS device is that it can be made to act as a normal plane mirror, or it can be deformed using fast, low-power, electrostatic actuation. As part of the MRR, the device maximizes light intensity returned toward the source when the MEMS mirror is planar, and minimizes it when the MEMS mirror is deformed. As a result, the return beam intensity is modulated.The main challenge of the proposed work in development of the MEMS modulators is to scale up the size by a factor of 6 while maintaining good optical quality and modulation performance. To achieve the desired MRR optical performance thicker substrates will be used and custom MEMS foundry tooling will be utilized.The technical objectives are to (1) develop a fabrication process for the manufacture of MEMS modulators for use in MRRs with apertures of 38mm and 76mm, and (2) assemble and test the MRR devices.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.32M | Year: 2012

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The principal objective for this SBIR Phase II Competitive Renewal project is to demonstrate clinical relevance of a unique Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) that the project team designed and builtin Phase I and Phase II work. It features closed-loop AO control that automatically compensates for aberrations of the eye, yielding nearly diffraction-limited confocal retinal images. This is particularly useful in retinal imaging, since the difference inresolvable feature size with AO (~2 m) and without AO (~10 m) corresponds to a range that includes the size of many of the retina's most important features: cone photoreceptors, nerve fiber cells, erythrocytes, leukocytes, capillaries, and retinal pigmentepithelial cells. As a result, the AOSLO should lead to a better understanding of retinal function and disease. The prototype AOSLO incorporates an optical doubler and custom-developed long-stroke deformable mirror for compensating higher order aberrations. Those unique components allow aberration- compensated imaging suitable for 90% of clinical subjects without the use of added trial lenses. In Phase II work, the AOSLO was demonstrated to achieve exceptional retinal image resolution and operational characteristics that make it well suited for clinical use. It uses long wavelength and low intensit source illumination, so that many subjects can be imaged without pupil dilation. It also includes a beam steering system that allows a clinician to translate theimaged field across the retina without requiring continual subject refixations. Innovative imaging techniques that will be explored in the clinical settings using this AOSLO platform technology include individual blood cell tracking, hemodynamic imaging,and montage mapping of photoreceptors. The project will include development of clinically inspired enhancements in imaging, ergonomics, and software control of the prototype AOSLO. BMC will collaborate with a clinical site in an evaluation of the clinicalusefulness of the AOSLO. Observational pilot studies will be conducted at Beetham Eye Institute (BEI) of the Joslin Diabetes Center Clinical aims for the BEI study will be to evaluate the capability of AOSLO retinal images to serve as a clinically useful surrogates for visual acuity in eyes with center-involved diabetic macular edema, and to evaluate correlations between quantified AOSLO image metrics and the state of retinal disease in diabetic retinopathy. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The principalobjective for this SBIR Phase II Competitive Renewal project is to demonstrate clinical relevance of a unique Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) that the project team designed and built in Phase I and Phase II work and that is specifically for use in a clinical setting. The instruments will be placed at a leading ophthalmology center where they will be used to quantify and report on the clinical utility of the unprecedented, high resolution in vivo images of the human retina provided bythe AOSLO.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 177.31K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop and demonstrate a superpenetration multiphoton microscope (S-MPM) that will more than double the imaging depth achievable in highly scattering biological tissue. MPM technology has revolutionized the field of subsurface biological imaging, but its depth of penetration is limited. The severe scattering introduced by biological tissue - especially neural tissue - prevents most commercial MPM instruments imaging beyond a few scattering mean free paths. With this limitation, research on cells and cell networks at the frontier of neuroscience is constrained. A recent breakthrough in coherent light propagation and control through highly scattering media demonstrated the possibility of enhancing focal intensity by factors of several hundred on the far side of a medium, despite any amount of scattering, by using a spatial light modulator to modify the phase of the coherent light on the near side of the medium. This project will combine MPM and BMCs fast microelectromechanical spatial light modulators (MEMS SLMs) to offer a compelling and affordable way to exploit this breakthrough in optical science that will make a substantial impact on biomedical and neurobiological research.


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to substantially improve multiphoton microscopy techniques that have grown exponentially in importance over the past two decades. If successful, the research outcomes will have broad impact on the field of neurobiology by allowing researchers to routinely probe molecular-scale structures and functions at depths of up to 1mm in brain tissue. This enhanced capability will effectively double the achievable penetration depth, with only modest additional instrument cost. The MEMS SLM work that comprises the bulk of the Phase I work plan will generate an important new commercial component, a fast, low cost, MEMS SLM subsystem. Since the proposed instrument will only require use of less than half of the MEMS SLM dynamic range, the drive electronics can be reduced in size and simplified allowing easy integration and significantly reducing cost by using off-the-shelf components and at the same time increase the temporal bandwidth of the system.. The result will be a fivefold reduction in cost and a fivefold increase in speed, which will also have a significant impact on other commercial applications such as free-space laser communication, femtosecond laser.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 748.66K | Year: 2016

The search for life on earth-like extrasolar planets has emerged as a compelling long-term scientific goal for NASA. That goal has inspired innovative space-based coronagraphs that aim to collect spectral data from earth-like planets orbiting stars in distant solar systems. NASA's SBIR Solicitation topic Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronography calls specifically for small stroke, high precision, deformable mirrors and associated driving electronics scalable to 10,000 or more actuators. This research aims to overcome the two major technical problems that affect yield and lifetime of the micro-electro-mechanical system deformable mirrors (MEMS DMs) that currently define the state of the art for high-resolution wavefront control: (1) keyhole voids occurring during manufacturing (reducing manufacturing yield) and (2) field emission damage that occurs during device operation (reducing operational lifetime). In this project, the technical solutions to these problems that were demonstrated in the Phase I project will be integrated into a full DM wafer-scale surface-micromachining batch production run to make the first 100% working 2048-element MEMS DM. As a byproduct of the process enhancements developed in Phase I research, this run will feature unprecedented surface smoothness and exceptional device reliability and lifetime in addition to high yield. The devices will be produced in a form factor that can be used with the heritage coating, packaging, and testing technologies. They will fit into existing packages and will be controllable with existing driver technology. Consequently, they will allow rapid insertion of these new high-reliability DM devices into appropriate NASA test beds.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 147.76K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop and demonstrate a superpenetration multiphoton microscope (S-MPM) that will more than double the imaging depth achievable in highly scattering biological tissue. MPM technology has revolutionized the field of subsurface biological imaging, but its depth of penetration is limited. The severe scattering introduced by biological tissue - especially neural tissue - prevents most commercial MPM instruments imaging beyond a few scattering mean free paths. With this limitation, research on cells and cell networks at the frontier of neuroscience is constrained. A recent breakthrough in coherent light propagation and control through highly scattering media demonstrated the possibility of enhancing focal intensity by factors of several hundred on the far side of a medium, despite any amount of scattering, by using a spatial light modulator to modify the phase of the coherent light on the near side of the medium. This project will combine MPM and BMC's fast microelectromechanical spatial light modulators (MEMS SLMs) to offer a compelling and affordable way to exploit this breakthrough in optical science that will make a substantial impact on biomedical and neurobiological research. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to substantially improve multiphoton microscopy techniques that have grown exponentially in importance over the past two decades. If successful, the research outcomes will have broad impact on the field of neurobiology by allowing researchers to routinely probe molecular-scale structures and functions at depths of up to 1mm in brain tissue. This enhanced capability will effectively double the achievable penetration depth, with only modest additional instrument cost. The MEMS SLM work that comprises the bulk of the Phase I work plan will generate an important new commercial component, a fast, low cost, MEMS SLM subsystem. Since the proposed instrument will only require use of less than half of the MEMS SLM dynamic range, the drive electronics can be reduced in size and simplified allowing easy integration and significantly reducing cost by using off-the-shelf components and at the same time increase the temporal bandwidth of the system.. The result will be a fivefold reduction in cost and a fivefold increase in speed, which will also have a significant impact on other commercial applications such as free-space laser communication, femtosecond laser.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 699.41K | Year: 2013

We propose to develop a 3064 actuator, continuous facesheet MEMS deformable mirror using a modified fabrication process that will eliminate mid-spatial frequency surface figure errors resulting from actuator "print-through" topography and stress-induced mirror scallop topography. These figure errors, which occur at spatial frequencies outside the DM control band, are the most significant technological development hurdle preventing the use of MEMS DMs in proximity glare suppression for astronomical coronagraphy. Such wavefront control devices fill a critical technology gap in NASA's vision for high-contrast, high-resolution space based imaging and spectroscopy instruments. Space-based telescopes have become indispensible in advancing the frontiers of astrophysics. Over the past decade NASA has pioneered coronagraphic instrument concepts and test beds to provide a foundation for exploring feasibility of new approaches to high-contrast imaging. From this work, NASA has identified a current technology need for compact, ultra-precise, multi-thousand actuator DM devices. Boston Micromachines Corporation has developed MEMS DMs that represents the state-of-the-art for scalable, small-stroke high-precision wavefront control. The emerging class of high-resolution DMs pioneered by the project team has already been shown to be compact, low-power, precise, and repeatable. These DMs can be currently produced with uncorrectable shape errors as small as 10nm root mean square (rms). The residual shape errors on the DM are mostly periodic and act essentially as a grating, producing diffraction spikes in the image plane. In the Phase I effort, DM fabrication process modifications were developed which will enable the manufacture of these enabling components with an unprecedented surface figure of less than 2nm rms by eliminating surface features resulting from print-through , etch access holes, and mirror attachment posts, and compensating for residual stress induced scalloping.

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