NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 S1.03-9278
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Passive Microwave Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Active Noise Sources

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Virginia Diodes, Inc.
979 Second Street SE
Charlottesville, VA 22902 - 6172
(434) 297-3257

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jeffrey L. Hesler
979 Second Street SE
Charlottesville, VA 22902 - 6172
(434) 297-3257

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Microwave radiometry is a well-known and extremely useful method to study the chemistry and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere. For accurate long term measurements, the calibration and stability of the radiometer is of primary importance. Thus, the noise-injection radiometer (NIR), which greatly reduces drifts due to gain and noise figure variation in the receiver system, is highly preferred. The NIR architecture requires an electronic noise injection system consisting of a noise diode, a switch and a coupler to inject the noise into the signal waveguide. NIRs are now commonly used at lower frequency, but above about 100 GHz the noise diodes become much more difficult to achieve. Recently, VDI has measured significant ENR above 100 GHz from GaAs Schottky barrier diodes. This preliminary measurement with a non-optimized diode design, coupled with the fact that the VDI diodes have been used as mixers and multipliers to well over 1 THz, offers some promise that GaAs diodes can be used to achieve useful noise power levels to well above 100 GHz. Thus, the focus of this Phase 1 proposal is the investigation of noise diodes and noise sources based on GaAs Schottky diode technology for noise-injection radiometer systems above 100 GHz.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The focus of this proposal is the development of electronic calibration systems based on noise diodes for frequencies in the range from about 100 GHz through 1,000 GHz. Such noise sources will be useful for a wide range of NASA applications, including the high frequency radiometers proposed for SWOT and other remote sensing missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
VDI's research program is focused on developing the fundamental technologies that are required for the full development of the terahertz frequency band for scientific and commercial applications. Noise sources based on diode technology are an incredibly useful tool that is routinely used in a wide variety of applications below 100 GHz. The lack of suitable noise diodes above 100 GHz significantly hinders the continuing development of terahertz applications. In the specific example of NASA's space based radiometer systems; the lack of electronic noise sources greatly complicates the routine calibration of radiometer systems, and thereby reduces the power and usefulness of remote sensing systems. Non-NASA applications include noise figure measurements, analog and digital test equipment, spectrum analyzer calibration, and a range of military applications.

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.


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