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SBIR Phase II: Novel Manufacturing Method for Precision Optical Encoders

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2322184
Agency Tracking Number: 2322184
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: IH
Solicitation Number: NSF 23-516
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-10-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-09-30
Small Business Information
675 n 36th st
Lafayette, IN 47905
United States
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 sergey zakharov
 (765) 588-4528
Business Contact
 sergey zakharov
Phone: (765) 588-4528
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop a novel manufacturing method to produce high-accuracy, optical encoders. Encoders are sensors that measure position, either linear or angular, and convert it into an electronic signal. Modern automation and robotics systems heavily rely on encoders for precision positioning and motion control. The global encoder market is projected to reach $4.4 billion by 2028, growing from $2.4 billion in 2022. Increasingly accurate encoders are needed to further innovate and enable the manufacturing of complex next-generation products, such as advanced microchips, implantable medical devices, and precision weapon systems. As design specifications become more stringent, the need to meet the demand for high-precision encoders becomes paramount. Successful completion of the project will establish a pilot capability to cost-effectively produce encoders with over an order of magnitude finer fundamental resolution._x000D_
The intellectual merit of this project is focused on developing a technology that has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing of optical encoders. Traditional encoder production involves using contact photolithography to replicate a pattern from a master photomask. However, this process requires a full-size photomask, introduces defects and errors into the device, and limits the achievable accuracy and resolution. To address these drawbacks, a novel, high-resolution, projection lithography system is being developed to drive an additive micro-fabrication technique. The new approach offers numerous advantages, including economically viable production of precision encoders with sub-nanometer resolution, improved manufacturing yield, and shorter lead times. The Phase II research activities encompass the development of a full-size hardware prototype with performance traceable to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards, as well as the establishment of the necessary infrastructure to support the newly developed technology._x000D_
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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