Advanced Microfabrication Technologies
Microfabrication technologies under development at MDL continue to support NASA’s mission to drive advances in science, technology, and exploration.
The performance requirements of JPL flight instruments have surpassed the ability of traditional microfabrication techniques. Using the state-of-the-art fabrication tools at MDL, engineers are developing new techniques to fabricate the next generation of components that will bring new capabilities to instruments. One result that utilizes these fabrication techniques would be the MDL silicon nitride membrane slit combined with black silicon. This critical component has revolutionized the performance of JPL imaging spectrometers. Another example, the 3D microfabrication technique, also developed at MDL, has enabled the fabrication of super-efficient ion engines to a point where it now can be considered a viable technology to propel a microspacecraft on an interplanetary mission.