Manufacturing Near-Net-Shape Conformal Electro-optic Sensor Window Blanks from Spinel
Award last edited on: 11/8/2018

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
DOD : Navy
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Mark V Parish

Company Information

CeraNova Corporation

85 Hayes Memorial Drive
Marlborough, MA 01752
   (508) 460-0300
Location: Single
Congr. District: 03
County: Middlesex

Phase I

Contract Number: N68936-16-C-0010
Start Date: 10/29/2015    Completed: 12/29/2016
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
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. <br>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.

Phase II

Contract Number: N68936-17-C-0040
Start Date: 5/12/2017    Completed: 5/12/2019
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
Transparent ceramics are currently utilized by the Department of Defense for electro-optical applications including sensor windows. In addition to providing necessary optical performance, transparent ceramics offer the potential for improved ballistic strength and personnel protection. Conformal electro-optic sensor windows are desirable for future air platforms as they maintain the shape of the aircraft and allow for a larger sensor angle of regard. Spinel is an excellent candidate window material as it is both durable and multi-spectral (UV through MWIR). Currently, only flat or nearly flat blanks of transparent spinel are available. To meet the requirements of future platforms and provide greater design freedom to aeronautic and optical designers, large area conformal sensor windows are necessary. The objective of this program is to demonstrate a manufacturing process for near net shape spinel blanks for large conformal sensor windows. CeraNovas fine grain size transparent spinel presents advantages over other available spinels due to its enhanced strength. CeraNova proposes to further develop and demonstrate a new manufacturing process to provide near net shape transparent ceramic spinel blanks. CeraNova will scale the process to dimensions on the order of 16 inches square with 6 inches of sag.

CeraNova fine-grained spinel has higher strength and hardness compared to conventional larger grain spinel. CeraNova's proprietary processing enables near-net shape forming of conformal window blanks. Benefits include increased warfighter protection, increase aperture and field of regard, net shape forming for complex shapes, and reduced fabrication waste

conformal windows, transparent spinel, High hardness, Net-shape Forming, Spinel, high strength spinel, sensor windows