NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S2.05-9570
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Photon Detectors
PROPOSAL TITLE: Superconducting Tunnel Junction Arrays for UV Photon Detection

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
STAR Cryoelectronics LLC
25-A Bisbee Court
Santa Fe, NM 87508-1412
(505)424-6454

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robin Cantor
rcantor@starcryo.com
25-A Bisbee Court
Santa Fe, NM 87508-1412
(505)424-6454

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
An innovative method is described for the fabrication of superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) detector arrays offering true "three dimensional" imaging throughout the UV, visible and near-IR spectrum. Current state-of-the-art STJ detectors are fabricated from thin epitaxial Ta films that must be deposited at high temperatures on sapphire substrates. The subsequent metal films necessary to complete the STJ may be deposited at ambient temperature, but all of these films must be deposited uniformly with low stress and tight thickness control if acceptable device yields are to be achieved. We propose to develop a reliable and reproducible Ta STJ fabrication process using an advanced thin-film deposition tool that features a precision backside heater for reproducible depositions of high-quality epitaxial films and computer-controlled deposition modes that ensure excellent reproducibility and film uniformity (better than 98%) across an entire wafer. The combination of these unique deposition features is essential for the reproducible fabrication of reliable STJ detector arrays with uniform device properties and high production yields.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
STAR Cryoelectronics anticipates that the primary market for STJ detectors will be in instrumentation for astrophysics research. In particular, NASA has needs for improved detectors and detector arrays for next-generation astrophysics observatories for the UV region. The proposed STJ detector development is targeted to meet this need.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Private sector applications for the proposed STJ detectors include applications in x-ray and mass spectroscopy. As an advanced x-ray detector with high intrinsic count rates, STJ's are of considerable interest for synchrotron-based x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and for high resolution x-ray microanalysis, a critical application in the semiconductor industry. STJ detectors are also of considerable interest as extremely sensitive mass spectrometers for applications in genomics and proteomics.