Iris AO technology can be a key enabling component in a host of future NASA missions, including the space telescopes of the 'Origins' program including Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), Space Astronomy Far Infrared Telescope (SAFIR), Life Finder, and Planet Imager. Four recent ASMCS concepts require multiple DMs to implement coronagraphs. Two of these, DAViNCI and EPIC, specifically require segmented MEMS DMs. Other potential programs such as Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) and ultraviolet telescopes will also require adaptive optics. Finally, ground based telescopes, like the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), Keck, and Gemini North & South, require adaptive optics to remove aberrations caused by atmospheric turbulence. Another potential area for Iris AO technology is in laser communications with satellites. Iris AO DMs are capable of handling tens to hundreds of Watts of optical power with dielectric coatings. The DMs could be used to compensate for atmospheric turbulence that inhibits downlink and uplink bandwidth.
The proposed adaptive optics technology would find immediate application in several military communications and imaging products. Systems used in military surveillance such as in the Predator drone and Global Hawk would benefit from the high-resolution, light weight, and low power consumption afforded by Iris AO's MEMS. Amtospheric correction enabled by these low-cost but highly capable devices would benefit space situational awareness surveilance applications as well. In the commercial sector, adaptive optics has been employed in research systems in biological imaging, most notably in vision science and microscopy. Several research universities are reporting results using AO-equipped systems. The high segment-count devices enabled by this proposal would lead to unprecedented levels of spatial fidelity for biological imaging applications. Other commercial applications include metrology, laser processing, coherent combination of multiple fiber lasers, and laser beam quality improvement and drift compensation. Iris AO segmented mirrors are uniquely well-suited to higher power applications such as laser processing, combining fiber lasers, and laser beam quality improvement. This advantage lies in the relatively thick segments that enable the use of dielectric coatings which tend to warp conventional surface micromachined MEMS DMs. The precision open-loop operation of Iris AO DMs greatly simplifies the use of DMs in these applications.