In response to NASA’s need for advancing compact, light-weight, low power instruments geared towards in- situ lunar surface measurements, geophysical measurements, regolith particle analysis, and lunar resource exploration Q-Peak in partnership with University of Maryland proposes to develop a laser-based mass spectrometer. At UMD, Dr. Arevalo’s group has been working with an international group of experts to develop mass-spectroscopy instruments that use linear ion trap (LIT) and Orbitrap for higher mass resolution and better accuracy in detecting molecules. More recently Dr. Arevalo has been funded through Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation (DALI) program to develop CRATER (Characterization of Regolith And Trace Economic Resources). CRATER has been conceived as a lander-payload instrument and it pioneers two cutting-edge subsystems: a UV laser and a CosmOrbitrap mass analyzer. CRATER will investigate the dynamics of the moon-forming events, detect life forming blanks, and explore economical important resources in the Moon.
Q-Peak proposes to design, develop and prototype a laser that will produce ~1 mJ of energy at 1064, 532, 266 and 213 nm. A switching mechanism to select particular wavelength will be employed along with a variable attenuation mechanism to continuously change the output energy from 0-100%. Estimated volume of the laser head is < 50 c.c.
A key factor in miniaturizing the laser is to design custom miniature optics, combine feature such as passive q-switch and output coupler, and bond the optics in place after they are aligned externally. Q‑Peak will partner with University of California, San Diego to develop a universal soldering material to bond optics to its heatsink that has different CTE compared to the optics.
NASA applications are in the search of life in the extra-terrestrial by detecting organic/inorganic molecules by means of LDMS, LIBS, LIF, Raman spectroscopy. With slight variation in wavelength when operated at high PRF such as 10-30 kHz the laser can be used for lidar, terrain mapping and autonomous rendezvous of satellite. When integrated into a micro mass spectrometer the instrument can be used for air monitoring and breath analysis for future human habitation in space.
An ultra-compact UV laser nominally operating at 266, and 213 nm can be used in advanced R&D and industrial manufacturing such as micro-material processing for the manufacturing of printed circuit boards and electronics. UV lasers are used in biotechnology, atomic molecular spectroscopy, chemical dynamics and medical markets for sterilization and disinfection of devices.