Manufacturing Near-Net-Shape Conformal Electro-optic Sensor Window Blanks from Spinel
Navy SBIR FY2015.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2015.2
Topic No.: N152-104
Topic Title: Manufacturing Near-Net-Shape Conformal Electro-optic Sensor Window Blanks from Spinel
Proposal No.: N152-104-0259
Firm: CeraNova Corporation
P. O. Box 278
Hopkinton, Massachusetts 1748
Contact: Mark Parish
Phone: (508) 460-0300
Web Site:
Abstract: Unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, carry cameras, sensors, communications equipment, or other payloads. UAVs have become increasingly used for applications where the use of manned flight vehicles is not appropriate or is not feasible. UAVs gather image data while windows protect the sensors. Conformal windows are desirable as they maintain the shape of the aircraft and allow for a larger angle of regard; windows may have little to no symmetry. Spinel is an excellent candidate window material as it is both durable and multi-spectral (ultraviolet through mid-wave infrared). Spinel is more erosion resistant than other candidates. The availability of blanks currently limits the size and curvature for potential window applications. The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate new manufacturing processes to provide near net shape blanks to improve upon current state of the art processes which start with a thick, planar blank and grind them to the desired shape. CeraNova’s proprietary processing produces a high strength polycrystalline transparent optical quality spinel, more than double the strength other available spinels and is not limited to planer shapes. The higher strength of CeraNova spinel also allows thinner optics to be designed and used which in turn increases signal transmission.
Benefits: Near-net shape forming enables conformal window blanks with significant sag. Net-shape forming greatly reduces subsequent optical fabrication costs allowing for much less material removal. Any aerospace and armor applications in both defense and commercial markets would benefit greatly from transparent ceramic window that would have virtually no shape restrictions.