Innovators in optical design and creation
What we do
MorphOptic, Inc. is a small company started by award-winning physicists and optical scientists. We create innovative optical telescope and instrument designs and have discovered how to make mirrors which are not only 10x lighter than current state-of-the-art designs, but also much less expensive to produce. This technology will enable larger distributed optical systems with greater bandwidth, image resolution, sensitivity to faint targets, and robustness than has up until now been practical.
MorphOptic (MO) signed a contract for a phase 2 SBIR/STTR with the USAF in December. This program will allow MO to create prototype curvature polished mirrors for small and large telescope projects. This includes the Honu off-axis telescope and a prototype mirror for the PLANETS telescope. Academic partners in this program include the Georgia State University, the University of Rochester, and the University of South Carolina Charlotte.
MorphOptic has started working with the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) to create a path forward for commercial production of mirrors like these on Maui.
We discovered how to make mirrors which are lighter and much less expensive to produce
Conventional precise mirrors are costly because they require many cycles of abrasive glass shaping and precise metrology. In some cases the cost of the fabrication hardware for even small optical mirrors can be several million dollars.
Our Rapid Additive Mirror Process creates thin mirrors without abrasive surface shaping resulting in optics that are smoother than conventional techniques. Our process uses relatively inexpensive and commercially available glass.
Our process reduces the cost to produce precision optical mirrors from about half a million dollars per square meter to just a few thousand dollars.
2540 Kekaulike Ave.
Kula, HI 96790
The energy concentrator mirrors that are used for low-power lasers and high resolution imaging are often a bottleneck in the development and deployment of optical communication constellations (on the ground or in space) and for remote sensing and direct imaging. High quality paraboloidal optics (on- or off-axis) typically require many cycles of abrasive polishing and 10-nanometer-scale metrology. Meter-scale paraboloids can cost $0.4M/m2 and are often the pacing component of imaging (or communication) systems. In order to address these challenges we have developed a Rapid Additive Mirror Process (RAMP). During this phase I RAMP proposal we will describe and assess relatively inexpensive 3D printer technologies in combination with new physics-based techniques for shaping mm-scale thickness glass without roughening the smooth fire-polished front surface of our mirror starting point – commercially available thin borofloat glass plates.
The RAMP techniques MorphOptic (MO) has developed are unlike abrasive or printable deposition-based nanoscale additive surface technologies. RAMP has several advantages:
- MO mirrors are an order of magnitude lighter than abrasively polished mirrors,
- MO front surface mirrors are smooth, with non-specular scattered light an order of magnitude less than typical abrasively polished or deposition-based mirrors,
- MO mirrors can easily be fabricated as off-axis energy concentrators or mild free-form optical surfaces,
- MO glass-shaping techniques are deterministic and accurate at the 10-nanometer scale,
- MO technology is inexpensive using COTS fabrication equipment and can decrease optical mirror costs by an order of magnitude or more.
MorphOptic curvature polishing technology can address each of these issues while maturing the science for a Phase II full-scale mirror application and commercialization demonstration. Here, through experiment, precise metrology, and physics-based models, we will advance MO’s curvature-polishing as an important tool for the low-cost fabrication of low-mass high-quality imaging and energy concentrator optics in support of space domain awareness, robust satellite constellations for ISR and optical communication networks.