NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S5.03-7795
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Mars and Deep Space Telecommunications
PROPOSAL TITLE: Highly Sensitive Photon Counting Detectors for Deep Space Optical Communications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Amplification Technologies, Inc.
1404 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230-4120

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Alexander Krutov
1404 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230-4120

A new type of a photon-counting photodetector is proposed to advance the state-of the-art in deep space optical communications technology. The proposed detector would operate at 1064 and 1550 nm, and combine high speed of operation with very gain and ultra low noise. The minimal expected parameters are a bandwidth of over 500 MHz (10 GHz might be possible), internal gain of over 1000 (100,000 expected), excess noise factor of less than 1.1 and count saturation rates of over 50 Mcounts/s. The detector would not require cryogenic cooling.

The detectors are based on the breakthrough technology of internal discrete amplification to achieve the unparalleled combination of high gain, low noise, and high speed. This represents a radical new approach to increasing sensitivity and speed of photodetectors.

The superior parameters of the proposed detectors could enable meeting the stated NASA mission goals of boosting data transfer rates in optical communication by a factor of 10-100 relative to the current state of the art. The new capabilities of the proposed detectors could lead to important advances in deep space and other optical communication systems.

The proposed detector has the potential to become the detector of choice for such NASA applications as optical communication technologies for deep space to ground communication links, intersatellite links, Earth orbiting to ground, networking formation flying spacecraft, and several others. All of these applications currently lack an adequate detector that would fully meet application requirements. The new capabilities enabled by the detector could significantly expand the use of optical communication solutions. In addition, with some modifications the proposed detector could be utilized for LIDAR remote sensing at telecommunications wavelengths.

In addition to deep space optical communications, the detectors could be modified for use in traditional fiber optical communications at 1.5 ?m. Because of better performance parameters, they could, for example, replace such current solutions as InGaAs avalanche photodiodes used in fiber optical telecommunications. This represents a very significant commercial market. They could also find use in commercial LIDAR applications.