Mass Fabricated Tunable Optical Filtering for Micro Miniature Multi-Mode and Hyperspectral Sensors

Period of Performance: 01/02/2003 - 07/02/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Tanner Research
34 Lexington Avenue Array
Ewing, NJ 08618
Principal Investigator


Tunable MEMS-based optical filters, critical for use in multi-mode sensors, can be batch fabricated to develop hyperspectral compact lightweight optics for use in miniature kill vehicles. The MEMS-based tunable filter is an effective, low-cost approach to providing compact lightweight optics with hyperspectral functionality, particularly for use with miniature interceptor concepts with projectile diameters of 25-to-100mm and even smaller. Integrating by design, the MEMS-based tunable optical filtering with a MEMS-based IR bolometer, during fabrication, reduces system size and cost. More importantly, it may provide significantly higher mission performance because more very small, low-cost interceptors can be employed against a threat missile system protected by multiple countermeasures. Tanner Research proposes to dramatically reduce the cost to implement tunable optical filtering by using MEMS fabrication techniques adapted from the microelectronics industry. Tanner's MEMS-implementation will be based on the mature Fabry-Perot etalon filter technology used extensively in network optical switching. Tunable optical filter fabrication, and FPA integration in MEMS, will be done in its entirety at Tanner Research, facilitated by multiple ongoing projects, including fabricating similar tunable optical filters for NASA. Tanner Research will demonstrate batch fabrication of prototype tunable optical micro filters. In subsequent fabrication, Tanner will integrate a filter with a micro IR bolometer, or other FPA, and readout microelectronics, demonstrating a mature, low-cost manufacturing process. Furthermore, Tanner will demonstrate dynamic control of the tunable filter across multiple wave band gaps: e.g., from 3-to-5 micron; and, 8-to-12 micron. The tunable etalon design is multi-functional and can be used in other critical military applications like chemical-biological agent detection and identification using a specific wavelength absorption medium.