Further development of electronically dimmable protective eyewear started under a 2020 Air Force Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from Wright Patterson Air Force Base to production level product. The goal of the current Phase II is to advance the relevant material and drive electronics of the current e-Tint system. Funding from OFRN is requested to advance the program from a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6-7 to a TRL 8-9. Furthermore, OFRN will enable the team to reduce the development of Phase II to an eyewear format useful for both military and civilian applications. Two related applications will be considered under the program. The first is an advanced sun protection device for the Air Force crew. The second is a laser protection film for first responder/national guard. The work plan encompasses material development, product design, and conformity testing at external facilities to ensure compliance the industry regulations.
Technical objectives were established to the advance the core LC technology platform so can be used for multiple product lines for different needs and applications. The program’s primary objective is to manufacture prototype devices for evaluation by the Air Force and other branches of the military, an essential a step on the path to approval by the military and ultimately, commercialization. As with milestones, technical objectives are aligned with the Department of Defense matrix for manufacturing readiness, targeting MRL for the dimmable eyewear and LRIP for laser protection. In the table below, the larger number of technical objectives for the dimmable eyewear than the laser protection device reflects the additional complexity and resources requirements. The approach to meet objectives is to leverage the expertise of each team member to address specific hurdles and problems to resolve the issues. AMI and the university partners will provide technical and manufacturing expertise, while Wright Patterson Air Force Base will provide feedback on prototype development and performance evaluations. Listed commercial applications are in addition to possible applications for the military and first responders.
Further development of electronically dimmable protective eyewear started under a 2020 Air Force Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from Wright Patterson Air Force Base to production level product.
Protective eyewear capable of attenuating light on demand in response to response to rapidly changing ambient light conditions is long standing goal for the armed services. For over 30 years the Air Force has funded multiple research and development programs in support of technologies that are capable of providing light management for pilots and warfighters. Over the past two decades, AlphaMicron in conjunction with various branches of the military has been able to create an electronic tint-on-demand technology, e-Tint, that can meet the stringent requirements from the Department of Defense. This system was reduced to practice and commercialized for Department of Defense use through Army’s Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) for approved ballistic eyewear. In 2019, AlphaMicron and Kent State University received a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award from the Air Force the further the capability of e-Tint to meet the light management requirements for Air Forces ground and Air Crew. Phase I efforts demonstrated a viable path for achieving the desired goal and as a result a Phase II effort was funded in 2020, that expanded to include Miami of Ohio and Bowling Green Universities to the team.