IRflex Awarded New DOD SBIR 800,000US$ Phase II Contract for Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Materials for Advanced Optics

On June 30th, 2021, IRflex Corporation signed SBIR 800,000US$ Phase II Contract with DOD NAVAIR for Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Material for Advanced Optics, after successfully finishing nine-months work partnered with University of Central Florida on Phase I and Phase I Option for the same project.

The award is principally to develop an additive manufacturing (AM) process for depositing inorganic glasses with sufficient quality and precision for free form and gradient index optics.

Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial production name for 3D printing, a computer-controlled process that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers.  The benefits of AM are widely realized for structural systems; however, work on printing optical systems is still in its comparative nascency.  The majority of the work has been primarily focused on polymers.  There are broad arrays of weapon and surveillance systems that utilize high performance optics.  The motivation is to serve the growing demand for those many applications requiring greater wavelength transmission range, hardness, and temperature stability compared to polymers.  The potential for utilizing AM technology to print glass lenses will provide the ability to 1) deposit net shape or near net-shape free-form optics, 2) locally adjust the index of refraction and other optical properties such as dispersion, 3) create high precision low thermal expansion meteorological frames that can form the basis for refractive optics, and 4) repair existing optical systems.

IRflex Corporation manufactures the mid-infrared fibers based on extra high purity chalcogenide glass, whose proprietary fiber technology and know-how support the Phase II project to fully develop the AM process which demonstrated in Phase I and Phase I Option, that can be applicable to an array of naval optical component geometries.  Include, in the prototype demonstration, the effectiveness of fabricating fully densified optical components with precision control of the part geometry, and smooth surface quality.  Fully characterize the resulting geometry, and mechanical and microstructural properties achieved through the process to validate the effectiveness of the AM process.

IRflex Signed a Phase II 800,000$US Contract to Develop an Anti-reflective Surface for Infrared Optical Fiber Endfaces

On January 29, 2021, IRflex Corporation signed a Phase II contract with the Department of Defense after completion of the Phase I project of the same title to develop an anti-reflective surface for infrared Optical fiber Endfaces.

The objective of the project is to develop an anti-reflective surface for use on bare and connectorized infrared fiber optic cable assembly in the wavelength interests of 1.4 to 5 micron.  In such region, optical materials with a large index of refraction are often used.  According to the Fresnel equation, reflection loss increases significantly when the difference between the index of the exit medium and the index of the entrance medium is 1 or greater.  In addition to the need for low reflectivity, anti-reflective surfaces must be tolerant to high optical power.

The project requests that the anti-reflective surface should be realizable on non-silica optical fiber including indium fluoride, chalcogenide, tellurite, and ZBLAN. Fiber optic cables should be designed to assemble with Subminiature Version A (SMA) 905 connectors and be compatible with short and mid-wave laser sources for the wavelength interest region of 1.5 to 5 micron. The fiber optic cable assembly must pass thermal, vibration, and humidity environmental testing.  The end result of this project is an anti-reflective surface with an improved damage threshold for high power application that can be manufactured.

The project started on February 1, 2021 and will last for the next two years.