USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Extreme-Precision MEMS Segmented Deformable Mirror

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2007 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Iris AO, Inc.
2680 Bancroft Way Berkeley, CA 94704-1717
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2007
Title: Extreme-Precision MEMS Segmented Deformable Mirror
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNG07CA06C
Award Amount: $599,994.00


In Phase I research, Iris AO developed enhanced electromechanical models and calibration techniques for MEMS-based segmented deformable mirrors (DMs) applicable to a variety of high contrast astrophysical imagers. High-precision DMs with 1,000-1,000,000 actuators are critical for high-contrast systems. Non-MEMS DMs meet some NASA requirements, but require high actuation voltages, have low actuator densities, and do not scale readily beyond a few thousand actuators. MEMS DMs offer natural scalability, but do not yet meet the stringent precision and stability requirements for space telescopes. Prior to this Phase I work, very few researchers have focused on extremely precise characterization of MEMS DMs. Technical advances achieved in this Phase I improved open-loop positioning accuracy from nearly 100 nm rms to an impressive 8 nm rms. Stability measurements showed performance as good as 0.21-1.17 nm rms in an uncontrolled open-access laboratory over a 15-minute span. Including high-frequency noise sources not captured by Phase I optical measurement techniques but known to be present on the DM segments, this rises to 5.6 nm rms. Noise source analysis conducted in Phase I shows that stability to <0.2 nm rms is feasible. Phase II will implement the improvements necessary to attain <0.3 nm rms stability and resolution. These improvements include: 1) reducing known noise and drift sources identified in Phase I and tracking remaining measured but unknown noise sources; 2) increasing resolution to 0.14 nm rms through enhancements in drive electronics initiated in Phase I and optimizing the DM design to utilize the full dynamic range of the electronics; 3) improving optical quality of the Iris AO DM segments to 1-3 nm rms; 4) testing resolution and stability of the prototypes; 5) expanding reliability testing that started in Phase I and 6) investigate the effects of operating in vacuum.

Principal Investigator:

Michael K. Helmbrecht
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

Michael W. Helmbrecht
Business Official
Small Business Information at Submission:

Iris AO, Inc.
2680 Bancroft Way Berkeley, CA 94704

EIN/Tax ID: 043693091
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No