Albuquerque, NM, United States
Albuquerque, NM, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.40M | Year: 2016

MZA partnered with the University of Notre Dame proposes to transition the Navys HEFL Beam Director Subsystem (HBDS) for flight testing on the Airborne Aero-Optics Laboratory Transonic (AAOL-T) aircraft. We will reconfigure the HBDS integrating structure and aft beam control system to fit the cabin constraints of the AAOL-T aircraft with an aft beam control and scoring bench. Operational functionality of the HBDS will be preserved. Target aircraft scoring and aero-optics wavefront measurements will be enabled. An aero-effects mitigation flow control fairing will be designed and fabricated for flight testing with the HBDS turret, based on previous subscale designs and tests. Integration testing of the new hardware layout will be conducted at MZAs Albuquerque clean room facility. The hardware will be transitioned to the Notre Dame White Field wind tunnel facility for aero-loading tests. From there, the hardware will be transported to Grand Rapids for integration onto the AAOL-T aircraft. A Test Readiness Review will be conducted prior to flight testing.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: MZA partnered with the University of Notre Dame proposes to extend MZAs WaveTrain wave-optics sensor simulation framework to model EO/IR sensors operating on hypersonic aircraft. Following the methods we have developed for aero-optical imaging through subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flows, existing WaveTrain libraries will be expanded to include hypersonic flow, shocks, thermal effects, and window loading aberration models. Optical measurements in Notre Dames hypersonic wind tunnel will be used as a basis for aero-optical phase screen models which will be validated in comparison with test data. These hypersonic aero-optical models will be incorporated into new WaveTrain components allowing for time-domain simulations of EO/IR sensors. We will produce initial sensor simulations using these extended libraries to illustrate the modeling techniques, and to conduct example parameter sensitivity studies. The models will accurately represent radiometry for a given waveband selection, and accurate signal-to-noise (SNR) modeling using scene generation from standard DoD signature codes. We will apply existing adaptive-optics (AO) compensation models in WaveTrain to assess mitigation capabilities for hypersonic effects on EO/IR sensors with conventional and advanced AO methods. We will also address non-optical methods for mitigating sensor degradations due to hypersonic flow.; BENEFIT: The proposed Phase I project leverages significant investment by the Air Force and other DoD agencies in development of the WaveTrain wave-optics simulation framework for imaging and laser applications on military aircraft. Since WaveTrain has been used extensively for sensor modeling, the image formation, degradation, and optical mitigation methods already exist in this framework. Furthermore, WaveTrain has also been used for including subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flow effects in military aircraft sensor simulations. Validation of simulation methods for these regimes will facilitate extension to hypersonic platforms. WaveTrain simulations of EO/IR sensors including the newly-developed hypersonic effects libraries will enable government researches to rapidly assess engineering trade-offs between sensor bands and determine resolution capabilities of advanced sensors given aperture constraints. The extension of the WaveTrain simulation tool to hypersonic sensors will improve the commercial value of MZAs product as industry partners will be able to virtually test new sensor designs in a simulated hypersonic environment. MZA will also be able to demonstrate via simulation the value of its adaptive optics systems and deformable mirrors as upgrades to existing military EO/IR sensor technologies.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.69K | Year: 2015

MZA partnered with the University of Notre Dame proposes to transition our computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling of aero-optical disturbances, beam control development, and wave-optics system modeling from rotary wing aircraft to the transonic fligh


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.96K | Year: 2015

We propose to design an optical imaging system consisting of multiple transmit and receive apertures. This distributed aperture array can provide resolution capabilities similar to a large monolithic aperture without the associated volume, weight, and aircraft structural modifications. A key challenge of such a system is to accomplish the imaging function without requiring an elaborate optical relay system to bring all subaperture channels together on a single focal plane array. We propose a coherent heterodyne imaging scheme in which each of the subapertures measures the complex optical field. These field measurements can then be digitally combined to synthesize a high resolution image thereby removing the burden of physically matching subaperture optical paths to within a fraction of a wavelength and allowing for a modular design. In many tactical imaging scenarios, atmospheric turbulence limits the achievable resolution and the digital coherent image synthesis processing can compensate for atmospheric turbulence including anisoplanatic aberrations. This active system could increase platform standoff range and allow for nighttime operation. This effort will begin with an analysis of atmospheric paths and imaging geometries specific to Army airborne platforms. We will conduct wave-optics simulations to evaluate the performance of multiple array geometries under a variety of conditions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:MZA partnered with the University of Notre Dame proposes advancement of aero-optical isolation hardware, data processing, and optical modeling for upgrade of AEDCs 16T wind tunnel. We will conduct testing at AEDC during Year 1 with mechanical diagnostics and an upgraded optical sensor with small-aperture access to the test section from outside the 16T pressure vessel. We will also design and implement a remotely-operated optical diagnostic sensor bench with environmental enclosure for use inside the AEDC pressure vessel. The sensor bench will include a high-speed wavefront sensor and beam expander enabling full-aperture aero-optics measurements. The remote optical diagnostic sensor bench will be tested initially at Notre Dames White Field wind tunnel in Year 2, verifying system functionality and isolation of aero-optical disturbances from a surrogate laser turret. We will conduct Year 2 testing at AEDC with the remote optical diagnostic sensor bench inside the 16T pressure vessel, enabling a large aperture wavefront measurement of the tunnel boundary layer. The sensor bench and test experience at AEDC will enable development of a conceptual design for AEDCs aero-optics isolation test section. The conceptual design will be captured in a WaveTrain optical model for virtual testing of future laser DE systems at AEDC.BENEFIT:The tunnel measurement system proposed here will allow AEDC and other wind tunnel facilities to isolate contaminating optical disturbances induced by the test section from aero-optical effects which are characteristic of laser directed energy systems and their associated beam director turrets/apertures. This system will improve the quality of aero-optical test data measured in subscale and full-scale wind tunnel tests for assessing performance limitations and operational envelopes of laser systems prior to costly aircraft integration and flight testing. Such a system will also help to identify sources of disturbances in the tunnel and suggest strategies for minimizing or eliminating these contaminants. Once tunnel disturbances are abated, additional testing such as real-time laser beam control tests can also be conducted in tunnels at AEDC. After proven successful for AEDC, the proposed measurement system, data processing, and optical modeling can be extended to other wind tunnels at government, industry, and academic facilities. The system may also be incorporated into a transportable Optical Diagnostic Range Simulator hardware used for testing laser systems in laboratory or hangar. The same product can be used in operational laser tests using a wind tunnel test section, becoming an integral part of the directed energy system developmental cycle.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.94K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:We propose to develop a 3D tomographic background-orientated Schlieren measurement technique, including hardware setup and post-processing software to produce 3D visualization of compressible flow features in large transonic wind tunnels. Such an approach relies on a novel synthetic self-similar fractal-based background and explores various tomographic reconstruction algorithms that will yield pertinent volumetric information such as the 3D structure of shock waves, vortices, turbulent wakes, boundary layers, etc. Hybrid wave-optics and ray-tracing simulations will be carried out to test and evaluate the accuracy and efficiency of the various post-processing tomographic 3D reconstruction algorithms as well as to determine testing hardware/software requirements. Particular attention will be spent toward enabling the 3D reconstruction and visualization code(s) to run in near real-time to allow for a more immediate feedback during wind tunnel testing.BENEFIT:A near real-time 3D background-orientated Schlieren measurement technique would improve compressible flow feature characterization in transonic wind tunnels. This would greatly increase the understanding of the 3D structure of such flow features in a time frame that would allow for immediate feedback to researchers running the wind tunnel tests. The proposed approach would produce a quantifiable accuracy, as determined through simulation (in Phase I) and tunnel testing (in Phase II), for the post-processing tomographic 3D reconstruction algorithms. Such a measurement capability would find wide-ranging use in aero-dynamic testing environments such as wind tunnels and flight testing where 3D flow visualization is desired, especially for CFD validation. Alternative uses for such measurement technology would be for developing and validating fluid simulations in computer graphics.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 493.18K | Year: 2015

In the Phase I effort, we developed a detailed design of a DM capable of meeting the solicitation requirements. In the Phase II effort, we propose to develop manufacturing techniques for realizing this DM and testing it against the program goals.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 245.45K | Year: 2015

Adaptive optics are needed for high-energy laser (HEL) weapon systems when performance is limited by atmospheric turbulence. This typically requires adding an illuminator laser to produce a beacon by reflection from the target surface. Since a small spot is needed, the laser must be projected from the main aperture, complicating the optical design. With this type of beacon, performance is often degraded by speckle, spot size, and branch cuts. The mid-wave infrared (MWIR) thermal emissions from the spot heated by the HEL can also be used as the beacon. This beacon would not be affected by speckle and would have fewer or no branch cuts. We propose using finite element analysis, scaling law and wave-optics modeling, to do a detailed study of this concept.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 974.94K | Year: 2014

MZA extends its partnership with the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) during Phase II to develop an integrated optical measurement and numerical weather prediction (NWP) atmospheric turbulence characterization system and atmospheric decision assistance toolkit application (DATA). We will develop a tracking telescope optical diagnostic system which images passing satellites or star fields and includes automated image processing software enabling direct measurement of turbulence strength (Cn2) statistics by use of MZA"s Delayed Tilt Anisoplanatism (DELTA) method. The optical diagnostic system will be tested during periods where the ground station"s geographic area is under surveillance of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) satellite sensor. Emphasis will be placed on extending the AIRS weather data processing for turbulence diagnostics to later times by use of standard and research-level NWP models. This prediction/forecast mode will be continually updated by available optical turbulence measurements between AIRS passes. The optical diagnostic system is also reconfigurable to measure turbulence conditions near the ground, and will be validated against other turbulence sensors. Approved for Public Release 14-MDA-7739 (18 March 14).


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: We propose to develop a novel form of pressure-sensitive paint (PSP) by exploiting distance-dependent fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between fluorescent quantum dot (QD) donors and acceptor moieties such as organic dyes, fluorescent QDs, or metallic nanoparticle quenchers) that are attached by flexible linker molecules to measure local pressure fluctuations directly without the presence of oxygen. The linker molecules fix the nominal (baseline pressure) distance between the QD donors and the acceptors so as to control the sensitivity and dynamic range of the proposed FRET-based PSP. Additionally, a recently developed type of bichromatic Mn-doped core/shell QD, whose excitonic and dopant photoluminescence emission peaks increase and decrease, respectively, in proportion to increasing temperature, but are immune to pressure changes, would be used in a temperature-sensitive paint (TSP) to compensate for the influence of dynamic local temperature gradients and fluctuations on the PSP measurements. A novel technique to deposit PSP and TSP in such a way to avoid interaction effects is also proposed. Both the PSP and TSP signals will be measured simultaneously and processed to yield accurate, temperature-compensated dynamic surface pressure measurements in an oxygen-free environment at elevated temperatures. BENEFIT: Since the proposed PSP relies on FRET and not an oxygen-quenching mechanism (such as with traditional PSP materials), it can sense pressure changes directly without the presence of oxygen. By using a second species of Mn-doped quantum dots (QDs) that respond to temperature changes but not pressure changes, dynamic local temperature gradients can be compensated for in the processing of the FRET-based PSP data. Because the proposed FRET-based PSP concept does not rely on diffusion of oxygen, it will have significantly faster response times than conventional PSP. The nominal distance between QD donors and acceptor species can be precisely controlled by using flexible linker strands of specific length whose nominal distance affects the sensitivity and dynamic range of the PSP and so the proposed PSP can be tailored to specific wind tunnel test conditions. Although the proposed technology will find first application in the aerospace industry, the fundamental FRET-based pressure sensing method can be applied to biological investigations as well. For example, sensing the intra-cellular pressures, protein folding strain forces, and even microfluidic flow-induced pressures for lab-on-a-chip applications. As such it will have significant commercialization potential in the life sciences arena.

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