---------- AF ----------

3 Phase I Selections from the 10.1 Solicitation

(In Topic Number Order)
Crystal Systems, Inc.
27 Congress Street
Salem, MA 01970
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(978) 745-0088
David B. Joyce
AF 10C-001      Awarded: 3/31/2010
Title:Scale-up of the Heat Exchanger Method (HEM) Sapphire Crystal Growth Process for IR Window Applications
Abstract:The increased use of high resolution Infrared (IR) sensors is leading to growth in demand for large aperture, high optical quality sapphire for a variety of DoD programs. Increasing the size of sapphire windows can improve sensor capabilities while at the same time reduce system cost, increase reliability and decrease maintenance issues. Crystal Systems, Inc. (CSI) currently produces 15" diameter, high quality sapphire boules using the Heat Exchanger Method (HEM) of crystal growth. Plates fabricated from these boules supply JSF EOTS windows, THAAD windows, the Lockheed Sniper Pod and other DoD programs. The goal of this program is a production ready sapphire growth process for the manufacture of IR sensor windows for military applications. The Phase I objective is to demonstrate the feasibility (to MRL 4) of scaling the HEM growth process to 25" diameter sapphire to supply these large plates. The deliverable at the end of Phase I is: a manufacturing process development plan with progress and completion performance goals for this scale up. BENEFIT: The successful outcome of this program after Phase II will result in an increased MRL to MRL 7 or above for Crystal Systems’ production process for large high quality sapphire windows for DoD applications such as IR sensor windows and transparent armor. The HEM process produces the highest quality sapphire, and the resulting high yields will produce a robust, cost effective, and reliable supply of windows. Secondary benefits include establishing a second supplier for large 14” x 20” x 0.8” EOTS sapphire windows, and the possibility to produce c-axis blanks. In addition there are numerous commercial applications for sapphire, including LED substrates, endoscope windows, machine vision windows and sight glass windows, wafer carriers, and mechanical applications. Additionally, if unit production costs are reduced as a result of a scale-up for large area sapphire windows, other large area window products will see commercialization and the unit cost of existing commercial products will be reduced.

Rubicon Technology, Inc.
9931 Franklin Avenue
Franklin Park, IL 60131
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(847) 457-3440
Jonathan Levine
AF 10C-001      Awarded: 4/7/2010
Title:Optical Grade Sapphire Manufacturing Growth Process for IR Window Applications
Abstract:Sapphire possesses a number of physical properties, including high strength, high melting point, chemical inertness, and excellent transparency in the visible and IR spectrum, which make it an attractive window material for military applications. Until recently, the largest detrimental factor has been the small size of available crystals. However, crystal growth capabilities have advanced to where large, single crystal sapphire windows are now realizable. During Phase I, Rubicon Technology, with their extensive experience in bulk sapphire crystal growth, will investigate the feasibility of producing optical grade sapphire blanks for use as IR windows. Research efforts will focus on designing and demonstrating a horizontal furnace capable of producing sapphire windows with minimum post-processing dimensions of 14” x 20” x 1”. BENEFIT: The ability to provide c-plane sapphire will address new markets where application are currently not serviceable by current sapphire products due to limitations in window size and thickness and/or concerns over strength or optical quality of the material. Some specific target markets include commercial aircraft and commercial shipping which will benefit from the enhanced optical qualities as well as enhanced strength of the c-plane material. In addition, many applications for clear armor currently rely on less effective materials that could be improved by utilizing sapphire windows.

Sapphire Systems Inc.
19A Crosby Drive #10
Bedford, MA 01730
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(781) 275-6369
John Outwater
AF 10C-001      Awarded: 3/29/2010
Title:Optical Grade Sapphire Manufacturing Growth Process for IR Window Applications
Abstract:Sapphire Systems Inc. will demonstrate a stable, repeatable process for growing sapphire plates which will finish to windows 14” x 20” x 0.8". In Phase I, plates will be grown in the A-plane and C-plane orientations which are 12.5" x 20" x 7/8". Current production experience suggests that the plates will have clean, clear surfaces, requiring minimal grinding and polishing. One of these A-plane plates will be fully finished and optically characterized to Air Force specifications. Using the data from this work, a plan will be formulated for scaleup to grow optical-quality sapphire plates on a commercial scale which will finish to 14" x 20" x 0.8" and larger. A full production path will be outlined to allow drop-in replacement of the windows for the end user. BENEFIT: Sapphire windows are urgently needed for the Electro-Optical Targeting System for the Joint Strike Fighter. A high-quality, reasonably-priced source will reduce risk for this critical platform. Large sapphire windows are also needed for future Air Force and other DoD platforms. The motivation to replace windows made from costlier, softer materials may be significant as well. There is significant demand for sapphire plate for transparent armor. While this is primarily military at the moment, with better production methods and lower costs, sapphire could become the material of choice for civilian applications as well. It is likely that over the next decade, IR vision systems will become standard on commercial aircraft worldwide. Each of these systems requires a sapphire window. The semiconductor industry, a large user of sapphire windows and hardware, is moving towards 300 mm-diameter wafers. The tools to handle these wafers will require significant quantities of large sapphire windows and plate.