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MEMX Receives SBIR Award To Develop MEMS Mirror For Ophthalmic Adaptive Optics

Albuquerque, New Mexico – August 25, 2004:   The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded MEMX, Inc. a $493,000 SBIR Phase II research grant to design and deliver a low cost, MEMS-based wavefront correction device for use in ophthalmic adaptive optics systems.
  The use of adaptive optics in ophthalmics shows great promise, but the lack of suitable cost-effective solutions has hindered the advance of research and the development of associated commercial markets. MEMX will leverage the most sophisticated surface micromachining technology available today to design and deliver, for the first time, a MEMS wavefront correction chip that addresses all of the requirements specified by the vision science community. These aggressive performance goals will be achieved through the marriage of advanced metallization processes and modifications to the mechanical design of the actuators, mirrors, and arrays fabricated during the successful Phase I program. A key result of MEMX’s Phase I program was the demonstration of an array of piston/tip/tilt pixels where each pixel was capable of 50 microns of vertical stroke.

To complete this research program, a leading vision science researcher and pioneer in ophthalmic
Modeling MEMS and NEMS, Pelesko
adaptive optics – Dr. David Williams from the University of Rochester – will work alongside the MEMX team. This program will deliver an order of magnitude improvement in the ability to image the retina, and as such will dramatically increase knowledge of retinal structures and performance. The devices developed as part of this research program will be made broadly available to clinical and scientific research teams, permitting them to pursue cutting edge research programs in vision science. Enhanced capabilities in fundus imaging will enable earlier detection of disease, better measurement of treatment effectiveness, and improved treatment techniques for a host of retinal diseases. These improved imaging capabilities will be an invaluable tool in the hands of ophthalmologists as they strive to limit the suffering of persons with vision disabilities and help prevent the loss of sight in significant segments of the population.

Commercial ophthalmic equipment suppliers will be able to deliver high performance systems to the practitioner that deliver real-time, high resolution images for diagnostic purposes and allow prospective patients to preview the results of wavefront-guided custom ablation LASIK surgery. The ophthalmic market for low cost wavefront correction devices, once such devices are available, is projected to be at least $20M per year. Such a chip also has utility outside of ophthalmics. Optical coherence tomography, confocal microscopy, portable military imaging systems, free space optical communication systems, and semiconductor lithography are other potential application areas for wavefront correction devices.

MEMX is a broad-based MEMS company pursuing a variety of high value commercial and government products. MEMX was founded in October 2000 and claims to possess the world's most advanced MEMS capability. The MEMX technical team spent ten years at Sandia National Laboratories developing and perfecting the revolutionary SUMMiT V MEMS technology. Its business focuses on design, fabrication, packaging, test and qualification of MEMS-based products, and it typically partners with others to integrate the chips into high value systems and products.

Previous News:  
MEMX Receives Four SBIR Phase I Awards From NSF and National Eye Institute, Jan 2004.
MEMX Receives $100,000 STTR Award from NASA To Develop MEMS Optical Beam Steerers, Dec 2002.
Sandia Spins Off Company to Commercialize Microsystems Technology, Oct 2000.

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