NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Long Range Optical Telecommunications
PROPOSAL TITLE:High-Counting Rate Photon Detectors for Long-Range Space Optical Communications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
63 Albert Rd.
Newton, MA 02466-1302
(617) 964-1788

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Stefan   Vasile
63 Albert Rd.
Newton, MA  02466-1302
(617) 964-1788

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Long range, RF space communications do not meet anymore the bandwidth requirements or power constraints of future NASA missions. Optical communications offer the potential to dramatically increase the link bandwidth and decrease the emitter power. High-bandwidth, long-range optical communications require reliable high-gain, photon-counting detectors operated at moderate cooling with high detection efficiency, large aperture, sub-nanosecond temporal resolution, low intrinsic noise, and capability to handle large optical background. These requirements have not been met yet by single detector designs.

We propose to develop a novel large area, photon-counting detector in infrared, operated with moderate cooling, gain greater than 10^6, detection efficiency greater than 50%, 100 MHz saturation counting rate, at least 500 MHz bandwidth, and configurable area.

The approach is to develop compact, photon-counting detector arrays based on designs processed in high-volume manufacturing with validated reliability and infrared converters processed on large silicon wafers. This innovation provides a simple solution to high-bandwidth ground-space and space-space optical communications by mitigating optical aperture ? additive noise requirements. In Phase I, we will investigate the integration of the infrared converter into the photon detector processing flow, and will develop the electronics to increase the detector bandwidth and its saturation-counting rate.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Free-space optical communications, space-ground optical links, detection or imaging in media with high turbidity, interferometry, mapping, robotic vision, 3-d imaging, LIDAR, and space docking.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In addition to long-range optical communications, larger arrays could be fabricated for single-photon imaging in the infrared with applications to security cameras, extended range underwater imaging, single-molecule detection, integration in micro fluidic devices and bio-chips for biomedical applications, as well as laser Doppler imaging and optical tomography in medical applications and cancer research. Due to their extremely short integration time, infrared photon-counting arrays could find applications in high-speed imaging.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Airport Infrastructure and Safety
Guidance, Navigation, and Control
Human-Robotic Interfaces
Optical & Photonic Materials
Radiation-Hard/Resistant Electronics
Telemetry, Tracking and Control

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19