NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II S5.03-8030
SUBTOPIC TITLE: High Rate Telecommunications for Mars Planetary and Proximity Ranges and Other Deep-Space Missions
PROPOSAL TITLE: Ultra-low Noise, High Bandwidth, 1550nm HgCdTe APD

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James L Gates
georgew@voxtel-inc.com
12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 300
Beaverton, OR 97005-1687
(503)906-7906
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
To meet the demands of future high-capacity free space optical communications links, a high bandwidth, near infrared (NIR), single photon sensitive optoelectronic receiver will be designed, manufactured, and demonstrated. The unique vertical charge transport electron avalanche photodiode (EAPD) exploits the bandgap properties of HgCdTe to achieve high quantum efficiency and avalanche multiplication that preferentially ionizes electrons to achieve nearly noiseless gain exceeding 1000 with an excess noise factor approaching 1.0 and bandwidths greater than 500 MHz. In Phase II, a segmented 1 mm x 1 mm back-illuminated detector will be integrated with a low noise CMOS integrated circuit to realize a photoreceiver capable of both single photon detection and photon number discrimination. Unlike Geiger Mode detectors, the receiver can operate at 77K, without the limitations of afterpulsing, so that dark current can de reduced and bit errors rates reduced. A cold laser line filter is used to select the spectral response anywhere within the 1064-2400 nm spectral band.

Optical communications has been identified as a critical technology for future NASA missions, and the innovation satisfied the currently unmet need for a single photon sensitive, large area, high bandwidth NIR photoreceivers that is not served by contemporary approaches.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Within the telecommunications industry, there exists a demand for NIR photodetectors with higher sensitivity. Additionally, single photon sensitive NIR photodetectors are currently used for testing the optical emissions from high speed CMOS circuits, quantum cryptography, and navigation including automotive LADAR applications, free space communications, transient spectroscopy, among others.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The requirement for optoelectronic receivers with single photon sensitivity and multiple photon discrimination is driven by the demands of NASA's optical communication requirements. There currently does not exist a large area, NIR photodetector that satisfies future NASA missions. Additional NASA applications for a highly sensitive NIR detector include NIR spectroscopy, astronomy, adaptive optics, atmospheric profiling, laser radar and autonomous navigation.