Low Cost, Light Weight Optics for Improved Multi-Function EO Sensor Performance

Period of Performance: 05/26/1998 - 11/26/1998

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Composite Optics, Inc.
9616 Distribution Ave.
San Diego, CA 92121
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

Lighweight, stable, and stiff electro-optical sensor telescopes are required to increase performance and reduce life cycle costs of fixed wing, helicopter, ship, submarine, and man-portable tactical applications. The sensors provide color TV, NIR TV, laser ranging and designation, and MWIR plus LWIR imaging and tracking. The sensors must operate at multiple wavelengths through a common aperture and require wide field-of-view, all reflective, off-axis optics. The limitations in thermal stability, weight-savings and cost that are associated with current aluminum telescopes can be overcome by using carbon fiber reinforced composite material in con-junction with optical replication processes. The goal of this SBIR project is to significantly reduce the life cycle costs of sensors and improve their system performance and usefulness by introducing thermally stable, high stiffness, low density material. This goal will be addressed by designing, developing, manufacturing, and testing sample mirrors and a composite afocal telescope for LRAS3. Our plan is to install the new all-composite telescope in an existing LRAS3 electro-optical sensor, evaluate its performance, and directly compare it to the current diamond-turned aluminum reflective assembly. COI anticipates that the telescope will be considerably more stable thermally, lighter, optically comparable, and cost effective relative to the aluminum version.