NASA SBIR 2012 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 12-1 S1.05-8777
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Particles and Field Sensors and Instrument Enabling Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: High-Resolution Silicon-based Particle Sensor with Integrated Amplification

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Svaati Scientific LLC
203 Arnet
Ypsilanti, MI 48198 - 5740
(734) 660-9412

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Subhashree Ramadoss
203 Arnet
Ypsilanti, MI 48198 - 5740
(734) 507-0990

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark Hammig
203 Arnet
Ypsilanti, MI 48198 - 5740
(734) 660-9412

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Particles and Field Sensors and Instrument Enabling Technologies is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This SBIR Phase I project will deliver a breakthrough in particle-detection sensors, by integrating an amplifying junction as part of the detector topology. Focusing on energetic particle detection in the heliosphere, the resulting leap in the resolution with which the deposited charge is measured results in far more precise energy and position measurements, from which the certainty in the particle identification is increased. Silicon is chosen as the material upon which the avalanche particle detector (APaD) will be developed because it possesses high stopping power for ions, low material cost, and an extensive microelectronic fabrication base. We have previously made both: a) low-noise silicon detectors for ion and high-energy sensing, and b) avalanche photodiodes (APDs) for optical photon sensing. The objective of the project is to integrate the two topologies so that we can compare the energy resolution with and without on-chip amplification across the energy range 10 keV – 3 MeV, with a goal of three times improvement in resolution at 80 keV.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technology developed under this SBIR will help advance solar science and mitigate the effects of harmful amounts of space radiation, whether it consists of high energy charged particles or secondary protons following solar particle events. The underlying detection technology can possess far higher spectroscopic performance than existing systems, thus allowing one to better correlate the solar particle emissions with the driving feature near the photosphere, thus helping to identify the origins and causes of the solar wind, solar energetic particles, and the Sun's magnetic field. Thus the Solar Probe Plus Mission and future NASA heliophysics missions will gain far greater specificity in mapping the spectral, directional, and composition of solar-driven particles. Beyond heliophysics, fine energy resolution can be used to precisely characterize atmospheric and soil samples captured and ionized during planetary studies. In fact, the general amplification technology can be applied to photonic detection as well, yielding another pathway through which high resolution x-ray and gamma-ray imaging can be elicited.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
An avalanche diode technology with thin dead layer can not only be used for enhanced particle detection, but it can find use in the fabrication of silicon-based ultraviolet APDs. These can find wide applicability, useful for biological imaging applications in both defense and commercial settings, flame monitoring, ladar navigation, and in an enhanced night-vision concept. For instance, if a UV flash illuminator and 2-D pixel array are coupled to form a 3-D imaging ladar, then one can form single-photon images at successive ranges by synchronously range-gating the APD array with the illumination pulse. Multiple single-photon image frames can be collected at each range over a period of time in order to form grey-scale intensity images of the scene.
If applied to neutron or gamma-ray detection, on-chip amplification provides an alternative pathway through which the signal-to-noise ratio can be enhanced, complementing the large body of research conducted in reducing the noise via cooling methods or alternative materials searches. For the specific sensing of primary or secondary charged particles and high-energy photons, the successful development of a low cost, high performance design will impact the entire industry, standing as a viable alternative to exotic materials. Thus, optical cameras, medical imaging instruments, and military radiation instruments would all be impacted by the successful development of an amplifying particle sensor.

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.)
Ionizing Radiation

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