Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing (EEMP)

Center: Marshall Space Flight Center

Category: Optics

Patent: 8,052,860

Inventor: Darell E. Engelhaupt


NASA Technology Page

Invention Overview:

High precision polishing is used to shape an optical surface and make lenses more precise to ensure images are sharp and reflections of light are accurate. The invention is a cost effective method and system for deterministically shaping and polishing an electrically-conductive material by employing electrochemical and mechanical shaping/polishing at the same time. This method and system can be applied to any base material that is conducting and/or semi-conducting. The method is computer controlled, which coordinates all of the parameters of the polishing and electric current



System/subsystem model or prototyping demonstration in a relevant end-to-end environment (ground or space).  Prototyping implementations on full-scale realistic problems. Partially integrated with existing systems. Limited documentation available. Engineering feasibility fully demonstrated in actual system application



Lower-cost precision optics for telescopes, search, surveillance, detection, weapons systems, communication devices, precision molds for pressing high-quality, inexpensive optical lenses



  •  This technology offers various advantages over conventional mechanical polishing, plasma ion etching, and magnetorheological polishing: faster material removal, reduced mechanical stress, capability to process multi-phase material, ability to handle large surfaces, lower capital cost, smaller equipment footprint, selective material removal, preserved surface micro-roughness, reducing need for additional polishing, deterministic approach

Invention Disadvantages and Possible Mitigation:

EEMP produces extremely polished surfaces. Conventional polishing methods can easily produce surface of lesser quality for applications that require less precision. The benefit of EEMP needs to be determined for each potential application