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SBIR Phase I:A Novel Dense Fiber Array for Astronomical Spectroscopy

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2111936
Agency Tracking Number: 2111936
Amount: $240,700.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SP
Solicitation Number: NSF 20-527
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-01-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-03-31
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 046838184
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Kevan Hashemi
 (617) 335-3472
Business Contact
 Kevan Hashemi
Phone: (617) 335-3472
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to make it possible for astrophysicists to dramatically expand their ability to collect the spectra of distant galaxies, and so to advance their understanding of the universe. The most important factor in large-scale spectrographic data collection is the number of spectra taken per viewing hour. The planned Direct Fiber Positioning System (DFPS) is mechanically simpler than the current state-of-the-art positioning systems; it will cost less to produce per installed fiber, and it will provide more fibers per unit area than any existing design. The spectra of galaxies is critical to dark energy and dark matter research programs, and these programs address the greatest open questions in astrophysics today. The relative simplicity of the DFPS mechanical components makes it a better choice for spectrographs of tens of thousands of fibers, but also for much smaller arrays of a few hundred fibers, such as could be installed on smaller telescopes. Thus, the DFPS will win a share of the small market for very large spectrographic instruments, but also to create for itself a large market for smaller spectrographic instruments.This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will be a small Direct Fiber Positioning System (DFPS) consisting of a 4 x 4 array of 16 fibers on a 5-mm grid. Each fiber will provide a 3.6-mm x 3.6-mm range of motion and will be controlled by electronic circuits consuming less than 20 mW. A calibrated camera will view the illuminated fiber tips, monitoring their position with an accuracy of 10 µm, to measure and demonstrate the precision and repeatability of the fiber positioner. The stability of the positioner will be determined over the course an hour in warm and cold environments, and in both horizontal and vertical orientations. The direct method of fiber movement requires accurate control of voltages applied to many fibers in parallel, which is a challenging electrical engineering problem that has been avoided by other, mechanically complex systems. If we can locate fibers with an accuracy of 10 µm in the focal plane of a telescope, we will be able to provide a new and superior type of fiber-positioner, one that will be more compact, less vulnerable to mechanical failure, less susceptible to corrosion, and more resistant to fatigue than any other existing fiber-positioning system.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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