Press Release

Boston Micromachines Founder Dr. Thomas Bifano Awarded Bepi Colombo Prize

By SpaceRef Editor
April 13, 2009
Filed under ,

Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC), a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror (DM) products for adaptive optics systems, today announced that company founder and chief technology officer, Dr. Thomas Bifano was awarded The Bepi Colombo Prize, for his work in micro-deformable mirrors for astronomical telescopes. Bifano received the prize during a day-long ceremony at the historic Galileo Hall at the University of Padova in Italy on February 14th.

The prize is named for Italian scientist Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo, a fundamental figure in celestial mechanics, space science and technology development. Colombo is best known for his research on the planet Mercury and in whose honor the forthcoming space mission “BepiColombo” is named, which is a joint venture between the European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Bepi Prize is awarded every two years to a single researcher for outstanding achievements in research and technology transfer.

“The Grand Jury of the Colombo Prize was very pleased to select Thomas Bifano as the winner of the Prize. The Jury appreciated in particular the innovative character of the proposal, its potential for new discoveries, its impact on knowledge and education, the quality of the presentation, its exact match with Bepi Colombo’s achievements, its potential in the medical and defense domain,” said Roger M. Bonnet, Chairman of the Grand Jury and Executive Director of the International Space Science Institute. “The Grand Jury has expressed its appreciation of this proposal and congratulates the winner for such a remarkable success.”

Bifano was among five finalists selected from an international pool of applicants. The finalists traveled to Padova, Italy to compete for the prize where they presented their research to the judges at the university’s Galileo Galilei Main Hall, named in honor of the renowned astronomer and physicist who was the chair of the university’s mathematics department form 1592 to 1610. The selection committee was composed of leaders from the European space science and astronomical community.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized for this award,” said Bifano. “It was thrilling to win, and deeply rewarding to be a finalist presenting my research about telescopes in a room named for Galileo, on the four hundredth anniversary of his first pointing a telescope toward the sky in Padova.”

Dr. Bifano also serves as Director of the Boston University Photonics Center, and Professor of the Manufacturing Engineering Department at Boston University, with a joint appointment in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. He is a member of the Boston University Center for Space Physics and the Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation.

Boston Micromachines’ deformable mirrors are widely used by leading astronomers around the world in the historic search for new galaxies and extra-solar planets. Research organizations, including French Aerospace Lab ONERA, the Laboratory of Adaptive Optics at University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of Florida, the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, and Durham University in England, are implementing the Boston Micromachines deformable mirrors in testbeds and on-sky equipment.

About Boston Micromachines Corporation

Founded in 1999, Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) is the leading provider of advanced microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based mirror products for use in commercial adaptive optics systems, applying wavefront correction to produce high resolution images of the human retina and enhance images blurred by the Earth’s atmosphere. The company’s suite of award-winning compact deformable mirror (DM) products is the most cost-effective, highest performance mirrors in the market today. They are widely used in vision science applications such as advanced optic retinal imaging, long range laser communications, and astronomy, including NASA’s search for planets in other solar systems. Customers include leading manufacturers of optical imaging and communication systems, governmental agencies and contractors, and vision science research laboratories worldwide, including NASA, UCal Berkeley, Lockheed Martin and Boston University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, BMC is privately held and also offers custom designed manufacturing services. For more information on BMC, please visit

SpaceRef staff editor.