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Iris AO Awarded Three SBIR Grants and Further CfAO Funding

Berkeley, California – May 8, 2004:   Iris AO, Inc., a developer of advanced MEMS based adaptive optics systems, announced that it has been awarded SBIR grants from the National Eye Institute, the United States Air Force and the National Science Foundation, as well as a follow-on grant from the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO), over the last six months.
  On May 8th, 2004, the company announced that it had been awarded an Phase 1 SBIR grant from the National Eye Institute. The grant will allow Iris AO to develop its high performance MEMS based deformable mirror. This novel approach to deformable mirror design promises very high dynamic range coupled with extremely good optical quality. The application of the Iris AO technology to imaging of the human fundus will enable in vivo visualization of single retinal cells.

On April 16, 2004, the company announced that it had been awarded an SBIR grant from the United States Air Force for development of MEMS based adaptive optic systems. The grant will allow Iris AO to design a retinal imaging system equipped with the Iris AO deformable mirror. Such a system will be capable of resolving single cells coupled with the ability to deliver diffraction limited laser spots.
Modeling MEMS and NEMS, Pelesko
On January 24, 2004, the company announced that it had been awarded an SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation under its "Electronics" topic. The grant will allow Iris AO to research a novel means of controlling the movement or "actuation" of its deformable mirrors using piezoelectric technology. This approach promises to further development of very high speed, low-power adaptive optics systems. This novel approach to deformable mirror actuation has the potential to yield an order of magnitude improvement over traditional approaches.

On November 18, 2003, the company announced that it had received a follow-on grant from the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO). This is the second grant that Iris AO has received from the CfAO.

Dr. Michael Helmbrecht, Iris AO's CEO said, "This is an important milestone for the company, and we believe it represents a highly significant validation of both our underlying technological approach and our company. The CfAO is one of the world's leading research centers supporting work in the field of adaptive optics, and we are thrilled that they have again selected Iris AO to receive this grant award."

Grant funds will be used to further development of Iris AO's advanced deformable mirrors – the core of any AO system. The CfAO may also provide certain technical advice in conjunction with administration of the grant. Iris AO personnel have worked closely with CfAO members in the past and have found the collaboration to be most helpful.

About Iris AO, Inc.:  
Iris AO is building small-scale, micro-electro mechanical (MEMS) AO systems that can radically improve the performance of optical systems. Iris AO technologies offer major improvements in cost, size, power consumption and flexibility over traditional AO. Iris AO's systems can dramatically improve image quality for a host of applications such as biomedical/retinal imaging, satellite/airborne surveillance, portable laser communications, and optical guidance among many others.

About the National Science Foundation:  
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.6 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions.

About the National Eye Institute:  
The National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and prolong the vision of the American people. As one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NEI conducts and supports research that helps prevent and treat eye diseases and other disorders of vision. This research leads to sight-saving treatments, reduces visual impairment and blindness, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages.  
Vision research is supported by the NEI through approximately 1600 research grants and training awards made to scientists at more than 250 medical centers, hospitals, universities, and other institutions across the country and around the world. The NEI also conducts laboratory and patient-oriented research at its own facilities located on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

About the Center for Adaptive Optics:  
The Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) is a Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation. The Center researches AO in the fields of vision science and astronomy, to remove the effects of image blurring through turbulent media. Applications include astronomical telescopes, laser guide stars, wavefront sensing, MEMS technology and retinal imaging.

Previous News:  
Iris AO Wins Purdue Life Sciences Biz Plan Competition, Eyes Future, Apr 2003.
Adaptic Wins Fourth Annual UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, Apr 2002.

Full Press Release: May 2004; Apr 2004; Jan 2004; Nov 2003

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