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Surmet Wins Another SBIR Phase I from the U.S. DoD

Surmet wins another SBIR Phase I from the U.S. Navy for the refurbishment of Infrared Search and Track (IRST) domes that deteriorate in service. Surmet will take advantage of its expertise and experience in applying IR transparent coatings, and precision optical fabrication technologies to cost-effectively restore damaged and worn-out domes back to the required optical performance specifications of an original dome.

In addition to Surmet’s primary focus and expertise in the development and sale of Transparent optical ceramic components made of ALON® and magnesia Spinel, Surmet has also developed a portfolio of other technologies that can be drawn upon to address many problems faced by the DoD as well as civilian customers. One such technology involves the ability to deposit thick coatings of IR transparent material on damaged dome substrate surfaces and subsequently polishing the coating to precise optical specifications of the original dome.

During service, Infrared Search and Track (IRST) domes develop pits and surface damage, due to exposure to adverse environments such as sandstorms, rain, and fog. This damage accumulates over time eventually reducing the average transmission to below acceptable limits. New domes are quite expensive since they are produced from single-crystal germanium with very sophisticated inner and outer surface coatings. A process is needed that is capable of restoring the damaged domes to a state or condition that meet all the imaging and environmental requirements of the original dome.

This Phase I funding will allow Surmet to demonstrate the feasibility of an innovative process capable of restoring the damaged domes to a state or condition that meet all of the imaging and environmental requirements of the original dome. The first step will be to remove the damaged surface layer carefully and precisely. Then this removed layer will be replaced by a strongly adherent, durable and machinable coating layer that is sufficiently thick and IR transparent. Now the surface of the coated dome will be refigured using precision optical fabrication techniques. This will be followed by application of durable anti-reflection (DAR) coating that will provide abrasion resistance while enhancing IR transmission. In addition to yielding a compliant dome, the cost effective refurbishment process may also improve the dome’s durability.

Founded in 1982, Surmet Corporation is an Advanced Materials Technology and Solutions Company, with a vertically integrated manufacturing capability. In addition to multiple facilities in Massachusetts, including its Headquarters, Surmet has R&D and manufacturing facilities in Buffalo, NY and a Precision Optics fabrication plant in Murrieta, CA.

Surmet thanks the US DoD for their funding support.

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