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Optics & Imaging

Ceramic Mirrors, Optics & Structures for Aerospace Sensing & Imaging

CoorsTek silicon carbides (SiC) are engineered and optimized specifically for optics and imaging applications which demand high stiffness, low mass, and thermal stability. Our silicon carbides are ideally suited for mirrors, focal plane array components, and structural supports used in aerospace and specialized ground-based optical systems. Silicon carbide optical systems are engineered for low mass, low complexity, athermal designs — enhancing optical system performance and reliability. 

Ultrasic™ Direct Sintered Silicon Carbide

CoorsTek UltraSiC sintered silicon carbide is optimized with a single-phase polycrystalline structure for ultra-stable material properties over wide temperature ranges. Its low thermal expansion and high thermal conductivity provide exceptionally stable optical performance in both transient and steady-state environments. Additionally, the high elastic modulus and low density deliver one of the highest stiffness-to-weight ratios of any optical substrate.

CVD Silicon Carbide

CVD silicon carbide is a chemical vapor deposited, ultra-high purity material used as an optical cladding for UltraSiC material. 

Aerospace Mirrors

Aerospace mirrors are used in a wide range of airborne sensing and imaging applications:

  • space telescopes across ultraviolet (UV), visible (VIS), and infrared (IR) wavelengths
  • fast steering mirrors for scanning, tracking, sighting, and alignment
  • laser communications and high-energy laser systems
  • gimbaled multi-spectral sensors for remote sensing

Focal Plane Array Components

CoorsTek UltraSiC silicon carbide mosaic plates, pedestals, and light shields provide excellent thermal and dimensional stability. These components are precision machined to tight tolerances and lapped to micron level flatness.

Optical Support Structures

Sintered silicon carbide structures are an ideal solution for imagers and instruments that require exceptional thermomechanical stability. In addition to mirror and focal plane array structures, CoorsTek provides custom struts, supports, and rigid frames engineered for optimal performance — eliminating stresses and errors due to material mismatch. Using CoorsTek UltraSiC advanced technical ceramics, the mass of completed telescope and instruments is typically 2-3 times less than traditional designs — while combining zero creep or fatigue with homogeneous isotropic properties throughout the structure.

PROPERTY
UNITS
TEST
ULTRASIC™ DIRECT SINTERED SIC
CVD SILICON CARBIDE
Density
gm/cc
ASTM-C20
3.15
3.21
Crystal Size (Average)
MICRONS
ASTM-E112
4
3 - 10
Flexural Strength (MOR), 20°C
MPa (psi x 103)
ASTM-C116, 4pt
480 (70)
517 (75)
Elastic Modulus, 20°C
GPa (psi x 106)
ASTM-C848
410 (59)
434 (63)
Poisson’s Ratio, 20°C
ASTM-C848
0.21
0.21
Compressive Strength
MPa (psi x 103)
ASTM-C773
3500 (508)
*
Hardness
GPa (kg/mm2)
KNOOP 100 gm
27.4 (2800)
27 (2750)
Fracture Toughness, Klc
MPa m1/2
Notched Beam
4
3.5
Thermal Conductivity, 20°C
W/m K
ASTM-C408
150
140
CTE, 25-1000°C
1 x 10-6/°C
ASTM-C372
4.4
4.6
CTE, 20°C
1 x 10-6/°C
2.1
2.1

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