NASA 1999 SBIR Phase I

PROPOSAL NUMBER: 99-1 07.02-1248 (Chron: 990239)

PROJECT TITLE: Superresolution optical monitor for PVT crystal growth experiments


Proposed innovation: Non-invasive, ultra-high resolution instrumentation is needed to monitor crystals grown in microgravity furnaces by Physical Vapor Transport (PVT). We propose an optical Superresolution Crystal Monitor (SCM) capable of reconstructing subwavelength object features that classical imaging systems cannot detect.

Project objectives: The central goal is to show that well-known superresolution methods can be used to monitor samples in microgravity furnaces. These methods are established for use in telescopes, spectrometers, microscopes, and other optical instruments.

Effort proposed: 1) breadboard a Phase I SCM that can be configured in multiple test geometries; 2) implement several prototype SCM systems and test their performance on model PVT crystals; 3) establish and document the best-performing system(s); and 4) verify that critical SCM components can be flight-qualified.

Results anticipated: Phase I determines SCM feasibility by establishing that a flight system can achieve the ultra-high resolution needed to successful monitor PVT crystals during growth. Phase II centers on the design, development, construction, and delivery of a near flight-qualified SCM.

Expected NASA applications: Compound semiconductors grown by PVT processes have critical features as small as several nm. The SCM supports understanding sample health and status for these and other interesting materials grown in microgravity furnaces.


The proposed sensor will be rugged, compact, and suited to deployment in demanding field and industrial environments. As computer chip features and components become extraordinarily minute, the major chip manufacturers will require new, ultra-high resolution instrumentation that exceeds current performance. These trends are well established and are not expected to change. We anticipate that the microcircuit industry will generate an extremely high demand for the SCM. We will work with a partner to produce marketable units. to plant operators in process industries - such as chemical manufacturing and electrical power generation - where any human error results in extremely costly plant down-time.


Dr. Robert B. Owen 
Owen research inc 
PMB# 262 / 2525 Arapahoe Avenue / Bldg. E4 
Boulder , CO   80302 - 6720 


Owen research inc. 
PMB# 262 / 2525 Arapahoe Ave / Bldg. E4 
Boulder , CO   80302 - 6720