NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Lidar System Components for Sapceborne and Airborne Platforms
PROPOSAL TITLE:Single Photon Sensitive HgCdTe Avalanche Photodiode Detector (APD)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Voxtel, Inc
12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 230
Beaverton, OR 97005-1687
(971) 223-5646

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Andrew   Huntington
12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 230
Beaverton, OR  97005-1687
(971) 223-5646

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
A linear mode HgCdT electron-initiated avalanche photodiode (EAPD) capable of 1570nm photon detection efficiency (PDE) at >10 MHz will be developed. The Phase I design, is based on vertical-charge-transport HgCdTe EAPDs recently fabricated using a 3.8-micron wavelength cutoff HgCdTe alloys, which showed excellent 1570nm response, nearly noiseless gain, >650, and GHz bandwidth operation at thermoelectric temperatures.
During Phase I, we will perform tradeoff analysis to determine the optimal HgCdTe alloy composition for the application. As example, shortening the cutoff wavelength (e.g. 2-microns) will result in a HgCdTe alloy with reduce dark current and/or higher temperature operation, but will result in a concomitant gain reduction and thereby compromise PDE.
In Phase I, we will develop the optimal HgCdTe LPE alloy and we will also modifying our low noise amplifiers (LNA) to match the higher capacitance of the HgCdTe APD, so optimal PDE is achieved. We will deliver at least one packaged part to NASA. During Phase II, we will further optimize the detector, integrate it with the LNA, and deliver a fully-functional, single photon counting module to NASA.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
HgCdTe APDs with the specified performance have utility in a variety of applications including deep space optical communications as well as LIDAR/LADAR applications from the NIR through the LWIR. HgCdTe FPA enabled LADAR instruments can provide measurements from both the dark side and the sunlit portion of a celestial body, thereby significantly increasing the useful observational coverage. LADAR's other capabilities include: estimating robot pose and motion; recovering 3D scene structure; identifying hazards or objects of interest; identifying articulation of observed objects, and performing visual serving of image data in the near-infrared (NIR), short wavelength infrared (SWIR), and other infrared spectral bands.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Low-noise NIR APDs are desirable sensor elements for military LADAR and 3-D imaging applications, both for existing systems at 1064 nm and for newer eye-safe systems at 1550 nm. Important markets include unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) navigation and tracking, tactical missile seekers, armored vehicle protection, traffic monitoring, and similar applications that could benefit from a low-power/low-cost LADAR capability.
Low-noise NIR linear mode APDs also have numerous applications in telecommunications and basic science. In addition to the market for high-sensitivity/low-noise telecommunications receivers for commercial fiber optic systems, there is an emerging receiver market for freespace laser communications. For instance, NASA wants to use freespace lasercomm for deep space missions such as the exploration of Mars. In the scientific arena, high-speed single photon detection is a must for advances in quantum cryptography and quantum information, time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, and astronomy. Finally, a number of medical and industrial diagnostic systems would benefit from NIR single photon 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.

Optical & Photonic Materials

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19