Zeeko Technologies LLC, a Purdue Research Park-based company, announced Wednesday (Feb. 4) that it will further develop its high-precision polishing technology for optics manufacturing through a Small Business Innovation Research grant.
The grant, awarded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will enable Zeeko to continue development of a novel tool path to be used in Zeeko's corrective polishing process.
Zeeko's polishing processes are used on optical products such as telescope mirrors and photography lenses, as well as on orthopedic implants and semiconductor materials.
The Zeeko Precessions polishing technology is a sub-aperture process that has been developed for the control of form and texture in the production of aspheric and other optical surfaces. Conventional computer-controlled polishing tools usually move across the surface in a raster or spiral motion, creating a periodic surface texture that can cause light to be scattered off the surfaces in one direction. This method can leave spatial defects on the surface.
Zeeko has developed a unicursal random tool path that does not follow a regular pattern and is non-crossing. This new tool path polishes a surface without leaving periodic polishing signature. This technique is patent pending by Zeeko.
The $85,000 grant will help researchers at Zeeko to determine whether trial procedures using the random tool path can effectively correctively finish an optic without inducing unwanted spatial frequency defects onto the surface of the part.
"The development and implantation of the random tool path has the potential to improve nearly all aspects of our corrective polishing process," said John Kelchner, Zeeko Technologies' director of research.
In addition to NASA missions, other industries that require large high-precision optical surfaces, such as the semiconductor manufacturing industry, could benefit from the successful completion of this Small Business Innovation Research project.
The news of the NASA award comes on the heels of a recent announcement made by Zeeko Technologies' sister company. Zeeko Ltd., which is based in the United Kingdom, just signed a £2 million contract with the Taiwanese government's National Space Organization and a £450,000 contract with a private company in China to produce high-precision telescope parts.