NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-2 S1.09-9261
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In Situ Sensors and Sensor Systems for Lunar and Planetary Science
PROPOSAL TITLE: Next Generation Gamma/Neutron Detectors for Planetary Science.

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc.
44 Hunt Street
Watertown, MA 02472 - 4699
(617) 668-6801

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James Christian
Radiation Monitoring Devices
Watertown, MA 02472 - 4699
(617) 668-6801

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 1
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Gamma-ray and neutron spectroscopy are well established techniques for determining the chemical composition of planetary surfaces, and small cosmic bodies such as asteroids and comets; however, new technologies with the potential to significantly improve the performance of planetary nuclear spectroscopy are emerging. We propose to develop new gamma-ray and neutron detectors based on wide-band-gap (WBG) solid-state photomultiplier (SSPM) photodetectors coupled to emerging scintillation materials such as Cs2YLiCl6:Ce (CLYC), and CeBr3 for gamma and neutron spectroscopic studies of planet surfaces and small cosmic bodies. The proposed SSPM photodetector for scintillation readout is based on AlGaAs, a WBG compound semiconductor with aluminum concentration of 60% to 90%. The ~2-eV band-gap energy of this material is engineered to match the emission spectrum of both CLYC and CeBr3. The high band-gap of AlGaAs also provides much lower dark noise and better radiation tolerance than Si-based detectors. Compared to conventional PMTs, the compact size, low voltage operation, and lighter weight of AlGaAs SSPM is ideal for spaced-based instruments. The advantages of AlGaAs SSPMs and the excellent detection properties of CLYC and CeBr3 scintillation materials make them a perfect match in the development of new gamma and neutron spectrometers for planetary science.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed innovative technology is a suitable component for a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer that can be used for Earth science missions, planetary missions, exploration of small cosmic bodies such as asteroids and comets, satellite radio-imaging, and space exploration probes. The nature of the detectors, as having a high signal-to-noise ratio, excellent energy resolution, low power consumption, and resiliency to harsh radiation environments, can open the door for improved gamma and neutron spectroscopy in future NASA planetary missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The development of the new gamma-ray and neutron detectors has a myriad of applications in the science, homeland security, and medical fields. The AlGaAs SSPM, with its low thermal noise and radiation hardness, makes it an excellent photodetector for scintillation detection of high energy x-rays, gammas, neutrons, and protons in nuclear and high energy physics experiments. The instrument can also be used for detecting and monitoring of radioactive materials for homeland security, and in medical imaging applications such as Positron Emission Tomography and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Detectors (see also Sensors)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)
X-rays/Gamma Rays

Form Generated on 09-03-12 17:04