Burlington, MA, United States
Burlington, MA, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2012

Telescope optical sights on warfighter rifles need to be small in size, light in weight, have high optical transmission over a wide spectral range for day and night vision, and perhaps most importantly, exhibit a low visible and near infrared signature. The highly observable flash of light, or glint, reflected from common telescope sights readily betrays the position of even the most skillfully camouflaged soldier. Glint can be particularly severe at night where infrared light reflections are large relative to the environmental backdrop. The wide spectral range and large angle of incidence that gives rise to glint are an ongoing problem for the conventional anti-reflection (AR) technology based on coating multiple thin-film material layers on telescope lenses. Thin-film AR coatings function through the interference of light reflected from each material layer, an effect that varies with the light incident angle, wavelength, and polarization state. An innovative, rugged, single material solution to the glint problem without the practical limitations of thin-film AR coatings is based on surface relief microstructures fabricated directly in the telescope optic material. Such stealthy textures, first evolved in nature in the eyes of night moths and known as"Motheye"by the optics industry, provide a smooth gradation of the lens-air interface, allowing light to propagate without reflection over a wide wavelength and incident angle range. Theoretical models for arrays of AR microstructures (ARMs) predict that such textures can be significantly more effective than thin-film coatings at suppressing reflections out to angles of incidence of 60 degrees and beyond. Recent reflection measurements of ARMs textures fabricated in quartz, fused silica, and glass show that reflected light can be reduced to a level below 0.1% over a huge spectral range spanning the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared. With strong interest from ARMY contractors such as Trijicon, Raytheon and Boeing, TelAztec will demonstrate its custom design, broad-band high-angle ARMs textures in several glasses that meet the requirements of military optical sights. ARMs textures on the scale and curvature of telescope lenses will be demonstrated in a Phase I Option effort, and the manufacturing process for producing low cost ARMs textures in existing and future rifle scope optics will be optimized during the Phase II effort and into the Phase III commercialization period.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

Compact, efficient, mega-watt power level lasers are being developed by the MDA for the mission of destroying targets over a range of many hundreds of kilometers. A candidate laser technology with the promise of meeting this mission goal is based on alkali gas that is optically pumped by multiple, electrically driven diode lasers. One current problem limiting the potential operational lifetime of these Diode Pumped Alkali Lasers, or DPALs is that the windows of the cell containing the alkali vapor, become fouled with deposits or fogged by damage from chemical reactions with the gas, reactions that increase as the laser optical power is scaled up. In addition, DPALs cannot operate efficiently in the presence of laser cavity losses such as reflections from the gas cell windows, and therefore some form of anti-reflection (AR) treatment must be applied. Conventional thin-film material coatings designed to suppress reflections are typically less resistant to chemical attack from alkali compounds than the cell window material, and thin-film AR coatings suffer optical damage at laser power levels well below the mission requirements. A roadblock to major increases in the power output and reliability of DPALs can be removed by development of a more robust AR treatment for the windows of the gas cell. The innovative solution proposed is to eliminate thin-film coatings completely, creating the critical AR function by fabricating microstructures directly in sapphire windows that have been shown to be naturally resistant to alkali chemical attack. AR microstructures (ARMs) etched in sapphire windows have exhibited higher transmission and pulsed laser damage thresholds 2-5 times higher than thin-film AR coatings. This Phase I project proposes to demonstrate high transparency ARMs textures built in sapphire and other chemically resistant window materials suitable for DPAL vapor cells. Multiple ARMs design variants will be fabricated in sapphire coupons and subjected to standardized pulsed laser damage testing and alkali vapor exposure testing using the flowing DPAL system at Kirtland AFB. Additional ARMs treated vapor cell windows will be delivered to the Government for further evaluation. As part of a Phase I Option, a design for a microstructure-based, all sapphire output coupler will be investigated and prototyped as a means for eliminating other DPAL cavity thin-film coatings. Potential DPAL manufacturers such as General Atomics, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing will be engaged to enable the new robust AR treatment to be integrated into MDA test platforms during Phase II and Phase III commercialization projects.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 997.89K | Year: 2014

Compact, efficient, mega-watt power level lasers are being developed by the MDA for the mission of destroying targets over a range of many hundreds of kilometers. A candidate laser technology with the promise of meeting this mission goal is based on alkali gas that is optically pumped by multiple, electrically driven diode lasers. One current problem limiting the potential operational lifetime of these Diode Pumped Alkali Lasers, or DPALs is that the windows of the cell containing the alkali vapor, become fouled with deposits or fogged by damage from chemical reactions with the gas, reactions that increase as the laser optical power is scaled up. In addition, DPALs cannot operate efficiently in the presence of laser cavity losses such as reflections from the gas cell windows, and therefore some form of anti-reflection (AR) treatment must be applied. Conventional thin-film material coatings designed to suppress reflections are typically less resistant to chemical attack from alkali compounds than the cell window material, and thin-film AR coatings suffer optical damage at laser power levels well below the mission requirements. A roadblock to major increases in the power output and reliability of DPALs can be removed by development of a more robust AR treatment for the windows of the gas cell. The innovative solution proposed is to eliminate thin-film coatings completely, creating the critical AR function by fabricating microstructures directly in sapphire windows that have been shown to be naturally resistant to alkali chemical attack. AR microstructures (ARMs) etched in sapphire windows have exhibited higher transmission and pulsed laser damage thresholds 2-5 times higher than thin-film AR coatings. This Phase I project proposes to demonstrate high transparency ARMs textures built in sapphire and other chemically resistant window materials suitable for DPAL vapor cells. Multiple ARMs design variants will be fabricated in sapphire coupons and subjected to standardized pulsed laser damage testing and alkali vapor exposure testing using the flowing DPAL system at Kirtland AFB. Additional ARMs treated vapor cell windows will be delivered to the Government for further evaluation. As part of a Phase I Option, a design for a microstructure-based, all sapphire output coupler will be investigated and prototyped as a means for eliminating other DPAL cavity thin-film coatings. Potential DPAL manufacturers such as General Atomics, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing will be engaged to enable the new robust AR treatment to be integrated into MDA test platforms during Phase II and Phase III commercialization projects.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2011

Multiple strategic military missions depend on the advancement of high power lasers that operate within the IR spectral region. For maximum effectiveness, laser systems under development for the CIRCM, ABL, and next generation UAV programs, require increased power and broad wavelength agility. Promising tunable mid-IR solid state laser sources depend on conventional thin-film coating technology to achieve critical optical functions such as anti-reflection (AR), high reflection (HR), and spectral or polarization filtering. Thin-film coatings are easily damaged within high power laser systems, and the threshold for coating damage decreases as the demand for higher performance or wider bandwidth increases. As a primary example of this performance/reliability tradeoff, developers scaling the power output and tuning range of metal-ion doped semiconductor lasers opt for more complex, less stable laser cavity configurations with reduced efficiency in order to avoid the use of thin-film AR and HR coatings directly on the laser gain material facets. Dramatic increases in the power output and tuning range of these laser sources could be attained by development of a more robust AR treatment applied to the gain material facets alone. An innovative AR treatment based on surface relief microstructures has been shown to have great potential for increasing the reliability and power handling capacity of optical components. AR microstructures (ARMs) etched directly in the surface of relevant IR transmitting materials have consistently exhibited damage thresholds 2 times higher than untreated surfaces, a value that equates to a 4-5 time increase over any equivalent performance broad-band thin-film AR coated surface. This Phase I project proposes to demonstrate robust, wide bandwidth, high performance ARMs textures built in the end facets of chromium ion (Cr2+) doped zinc selenide (ZnSe) and zinc sulfide (ZnS) laser gain material. Multiple ARMs design variants will be fabricated in ZnSe, ZnS, and Cr2+:ZnSe coupons and subjected to standardized pulsed and continuous wave laser damage testing. Additional ARMs treated coupons of the most promising designs will be delivered to the Government for further damage testing. In collaboration with IR laser manufacturer IPG Photonics, the new robust AR treatment will be integrated into critical AFRL systems during Phase II and Phase III commercialization projects. BENEFIT: It is anticipated that a dramatic increase in laser power handling capacity combined with enhanced operational lifetime will be achieved through the integration of anti-reflecting microstructures in solid state laser systems. In particular, the broad-band performance of ARMs will benefit tunable metal-ion doped ZnSe and ZnS lasers that find a wide range of applications throughout the mid-IR spectral region. Air Force applications requiring more reliable, higher power, wavelength agile mid-IR laser sources include laser communications, countermeasures, target designators, weapons, rangefinders, remote chemical sensors, and infrared scene projectors. Commercial applications include environmental chemical monitoring, industrial welding and cutting systems, and food processing. Significant advances in medical devices for surgery, noninvasive treatments, breath diagnostics, and imaging await higher power laser sources, as do astronomical instruments for spectroscopy, planetary exploration, earth and solar observations, and optical telecommunications. Although the proposed effort will immediately benefit metal ion doped ZnSe and ZnS laser materials, the robust nature of ARMs can be extended to any current or emerging laser technology such as quantum cascade lasers, zinc germanium phosphide lasers, and semiconductor microchip lasers, as well as silica and chalcogenide glass optical fiber laser delivery systems.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: In a Phase I project, the problems with optical performance and low threshold for damage limiting the advancement of mid-infrared (mid-IR) wavelength high power laser systems based on metal-ion doped chalcogenide materials, was addressed through the replacement of multi-layer thin-film coatings with optically functional surface relief microstructures. Anti-reflection (AR) textures, known as Motheye structures in the literature, were fabricated in ZnSe windows exhibiting reflection losses below 0.2% over a 1500nm wide spectral range in the mid-IR. AR microstructures (ARMs) were also demonstrated in chromium-ion doped ZnSe (Cr2+:ZnSe) and ClearTran ZnS. In standardized pulsed laser damage testing at a wavelength of 2.1m, damage thresholds for ARMs treated Cr2+:ZnSe and ZnSe windows were found to be three to seven times higher than the 2J/cm2 often reported for thin-film AR coatings. Continuous wave (cw) laser damage testing at a wavelength of 1.94m conducted by IPG Photonics indicates that ARMs-treated Cr2+:ZnSe windows can survive power densities up to 0.5 MW/cm2, a level equivalent to untreated material and about 50% higher than the damage threshold of thin-film AR coated Cr2+:ZnSe. The proposed Phase II project will further quantify the power handling and transmission advantages of ARMs technology in multiple chromium and iron doped material configurations through pulsed and cw laser damage testing and product integration trials in collaboration with IPG Photonics. A plasma-based etch process developed in the Phase I work that was found to be useful for removing residual sub-surface optical polishing damage, will be further investigated for its effectiveness at enhancing the damage resistance of all components in pulsed mid-IR lasers. Microstructure-based reflectors built in chalcogenide materials will also be designed and prototyped to serve as the high reflector (HR), output coupler (OC), dichroic splitter, and polarizer components needed to form a mid-IR laser. Multiple microstructure-based laser components will be delivered to AFRL for further evaluation. Commercialization efforts will include side-by-side comparison testing of microstructure-based components with thin-film coated components integrated within existing and planned laser products offered by IPG Photonics. BENEFIT: It is anticipated that a 5X increase in laser power handling capacity combined with enhanced operational lifetime will be achieved through the use of microstructure technology in place of thin-film coatings in solid state laser systems. In particular, the broad-band performance of ARMs will benefit tunable metal-ion doped ZnSe and ZnS lasers that find a wide range of applications throughout the mid-IR spectral region. Air Force platforms such as manned and un-manned aircraft requiring more reliable, higher power, wavelength agile mid-IR laser sources include laser communications, countermeasures (CIRCM), target designators, weapons, rangefinders, remote chemical sensors, and infrared scene projectors. Commercial applications include environmental chemical monitoring, industrial welding and cutting systems, and food processing. Significant advances in medical devices for surgery, noninvasive treatments, breath diagnostics, and imaging await higher power laser sources, as do astronomical instruments for spectroscopy, planetary exploration, earth and solar observations, and optical telecommunications. Although the proposed effort will immediately benefit metal ion doped ZnSe and ZnS laser materials, the robust nature of ARMs can be extended to any current or emerging laser technology such as quantum cascade lasers, zinc germanium phosphide lasers, and semiconductor microchip lasers, as well as silica and chalcogenide glass optical fiber laser delivery systems.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 520.00K | Year: 2011

ABSTRACT: This Phase II project will increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of an advanced, nano-technology based anti-reflection (AR) treatment being developed by TelAztec under an associated Missile Defense Agency (MDA) sponsored SBIR Phase II project intended to benefit many military critical infrared light imaging sensors. The ultimate objective of this program is to adapt the AR Microstructure (ARMs) technology and fabrication processes for use with the innovative sensor designs offered by the Image Sensor Division of Teledyne Imaging Sensors (TIS), a major commercial supplier of state-of-the-art detector products. In a directly related MDA sponsored Phase II Enhancement program, ARMs technology has been successfully integrated and tested with functional sensors produced by BAE Systems, a second major supplier of infrared imaging detectors. To ensure the supply of high functioning infrared sensors and to promote innovation, multiple detector manufacturers with varying device designs have been supported by the military and have supplied fully qualified detectors. A Phase II project is needed to demonstrate the integration of ARMs technology with TIS microlens-based sensor arrays. It is expected that up to two functional sensor arrays fabricated with the new ARMs treatment will be delivered to the Air Force for further testing. BENEFIT: ARMs technology offers the potential for higher performance detector arrays combined with increased environmental survivability and reduced costs associated with improved fabrication yields. It is anticipated that the increased sensor quantum efficiency over a wider infrared bandwidth afforded by the ARMs treatment will allow for longer range detection of missile threats allowing the warfighter more time to evade. The large format, multiple mega-pixel sensors slated for the next generation Air Force SBIRS HIGH program that is currently referred to as the Overhead Persistent Infrared System, OPIRS, and is the direct output of the AFRL High Stare research program, would realize significant performance and cost advantages through application of the ARMs treatment. The mechanical durability of the ARMs treatment can also lead to reduced replacement costs in airborne sensor systems used in the Predator and GlobalHawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Joint Strike Fighter, and in most helicopter platforms such as the ARMY ARH-70A reconnaissance helicopter.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2011

Next generation Earth Science Satellites ORCA and CLARREO are designed to measure our planet's ocean and climate health. Using hyper-spectral imaging at wavelengths ranging from the UV through NIR, these instruments will record the levels of the earth's temperature rise over the course of a decade. To make such detailed measurements, polarization effects at various wavelengths due to multiple factors must be eliminated using an optical device known as a "de-polarizer". For the CLARREO de-polarizer, four quartz windows are needed to randomize the polarization state of the observed reflected light spectrum. Multiple reflections from 4 surfaces produce losses up to 14% of the incident light, a level high enough to produce "ghost" effects superimposed on the desired earth images resulting in reduced image contrast and greater measurement error. An anti-reflection (AR) treatment is needed that can withstand the radiation and temperature effects caused by the mission environment while reducing reflection losses to levels of fractions of one percent. A new type of AR treatment, being developed for many military and commercial applications, is based on surface relief microstructures fabricated directly in a window, optic, or sensor material. AR microstructures (ARMs) can suppress internal reflections to levels unattainable by conventional thin-film AR coating technology. To extend the performance benefits of ARMs to hyper-spectral imaging systems, it is proposed that the fabrication processes developed for fused silica, glass, silicon, and many other optical materials be adapted for use with the quartz and magnesium fluoride depolarizers planned for the ORCA and CLARREO missions. In addition, an investigation of innovative surface microstructure technology is proposed for the fabrication of a new type of non-scattering, micro-textured depolarizer with inherent AR properties that can be applied to multiple optical elements within a spectrometer system.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2010

Imaging sensors, or focal plane arrays (FPAs), designed to detect the light signature of ballistic missiles, are a critical component of the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) space sensor program known as the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS). The need to detect a missile at the greatest distance from its intended target, drives the advancement of sensor technology toward the increased resolution afforded by large pixel count FPAs. As an example, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) recent HIGH STARE program will develop a 4 mega-pixel infrared FPA, a pixel count that is 16 times greater than the original infrared FPA planned for STSS. A major challenge for HIGH STARE sensor manufacturers BAE Systems and Teledyne, will be to increase the fabrication yield of large format FPAs. One concern that has been identified involves the warping of the FPA substrate during processing that can lead to failures at the assembly, or hybridization stage. This problem is particularly aggravated by stresses introduced when depositing the conventional multi-layer thin-film coatings needed for effective infrared anti-reflection (AR). Eliminating or preventing wafer stress introduced by thin-film AR coatings may become impossible when fabricating large format FPAs such as the 7x7cm HIGH STARE format. A solution to the yield limiting stress issue is proposed where thin-film AR coatings are replaced by a high-performance, radiation-resistant, stress-free AR treatment based on surface relief microstructures fabricated directly in the FPA substrate. TelAztec has been developing high performance AR microstructure technology in an ongoing MDA sponsored SBIR project that has progressed into the Phase II Transition stage. With the active participation and support of Raytheon, Teledyne, and BAE Systems, TelAztec proposes to apply its AR microstructure treatment to large format, 7x7cm CdZnTe substrates. The transmission and surface figure of the wafers will be recorded before and after application of the AR treatment to determine the amount of added stress. A wafer treated with thin-film AR coatings deposited by BAE Systems, will be tested to provide a direct comparison. Each test wafer will then be bump-bonded to a mechanical silicon ROICs to qualify the expected reduction in hybridization failures. Plans will be made to refine the AR microstructure fabrication process and to apply the process to large format functional devices during a Phase II project and into Phase III.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2010

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes research into the feasibility of scaling the fabrication of efficiency-enhancing nanostructures used for organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, to enable low-cost solid-state lighting (SSL). Of specific interest in this DOE-ITP Nanomanufacturing Initiative opportunity is the potential for OLED-based SSLs to be inexpensively produced in large area formats compatible with the US industrial base. In addition, such low-cost, large format SSL would not only realize dramatic energy savings for US manufacturers, but would play a significant role in reducing worldwide energy consumption, and lead to a healthy commercial market. Today the incorporation of a wide variety of surface relief textures as part of the OLED structure has been shown in numerous laboratory demonstrations to increase the light extraction efficiency many times over. Much of this work has focused on micro-scale structures such as microlenses and diffraction gratings that reduce light losses generated by only part of the OLED structure. One recent study showed that a micro-scale grid pattern within the organic emitter materials could produce dramatic increases in light extraction efficiency. This study showed that further increases in extraction efficiency might be obtained by decreasing the size of the grid to the nano-scale where the grid structures were all smaller than the wavelengths of visible light. TelAztec has been developing large-scale, low-cost origination and replication methods for such sub-wavelength surface relief textures for numerous applications in sensors, displays, and high energy lasers. For this Phase I effort, TelAztec will design and fabricate sub-wavelength sized nano-structures within the organics layer of existing OLED structures using established scalable manufacturing processes. In collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and ARKEMA Corporation, OLED prototypes incorporating several nano-structure variants will be produced and evaluated for light extraction efficiency. In a Phase II effort, several SSL manufacturers will be engaged to produce large scale nano-structured OLED light panels that are further combined with other light extraction enhancement methods such as TelAztec


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2015

Infrared imaging has revolutionized the Armys approach to warfare, providing the capability to see day or night through smoke, fog, and dust. Imaging in all battlefield conditions enables 24-hour covert targeting and tracking, threat warning, hostile fire identification; thereby increasing mission capability while providing protection for the troops. For high-resolution imaging in all conditions, the Army utilizes electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) focal plane arrays that cover the VISIBLE to LWIR spectral range. For suppression of problematic reflections from the high index sensor surfaces, thin film antireflection coatings are employed. The Army has identified that these coatings do not adequately suppress reflections to mission specifications and often have environmental durability issues related to stress and thermal fluctuations. An innovative and rugged and solution to the AR problem is based on surface relief AntiReflective Microstructures (ARMs) imparted directly in the sensor substrate material through a simple plasma deposition, etch, and cleaning process. With no dissimilar materials as a component of the AR treatment, stress and environmental durability issues are eliminated. The optical performance of microstructures has been shown to be far superior to thin film coatings with respect to reflection suppression, transmission bandwidth, and off-axis performance. The combination of large batch processing, short cycle times, and in-situ process controls result in an ARMs manufacturing process that will produce the low unit costs required to equip the warfighter in the field.

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