NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-2 S1.11-8655
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lunar Science Instruments and Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: A LIBS/Raman System for Planetary Surface Measurement

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Q-Peak, Inc.
135 South Road
Bedford, MA 01730 - 2307
(781) 275-9535

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Bhabana Pati
135 South Road
Bedford, MA 01730 - 2307
(781) 275-9535

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
For lightweight and power-efficient instruments that enable elemental and/or mineralogy analysis, Q-Peak proposes to develop a compact, robust, and efficient instrument capable of performing imaging spectroscopy, Laser-Raman Spectroscopy (LRS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). The main advantage in using these techniques for planetary science is the ability to rapidly collect a wealth of chemical information, by simply directing a laser beam on remote targets of interest. No sample preparation is necessary.
As an important component of the Raman/LIBS instrument in Phase I, we developed, built and tested a 1.5 cubic-inch, Q-switched, solid state laser fitted with commercial, off-the-shelf optical components. The laser produced ~1 mJ, < 2 ns-duration pulses at 523-nm wavelength and was used to analyze a norite sample by means of Raman/LIBS techniques. In Phase II we propose to further miniaturize and ruggedize the Phase I laser to a size of < 1 cubic inch. We will scale up the energy-per-pulse up to 2 mJ and test the laser in a wide range of environments such as vibration, vacuum and temperature. We will design and test the optics in a CHAMP instrument modified to accommodate the compact laser. The TRL of the laser will be 6 at the conclusion of the effort.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA applications are in systems requiring compact, efficient, reliable, moderate-energy, nanosecond-pulsed lasers. For planetary exploration, these applications are in LIBS systems for planetary surface characterization and in lidar systems for atmospheric measurements of aerosol concentrations and distributions as well as precision ranging for planetary surface mapping from satellites and other spacecraft. The laser we propose to develop is compact, efficient, rugged and reliable, making it ideal for planetary missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Commercial applications are in portable LIBS systems to replace the current bulky, inefficient lamp-pumped lasers. LIBS, besides having scientific applications, can also be used in industrial applications for process control through monitoring of exhaust streams, analysis of pharmaceuticals, profiling of metals, composition determinations of minerals in mining and detection of contamination in the environment.
This laser architecture can be coupled to an Optical Parametric Oscillator (OPO) instead of the SHG non-linear process and produce ~ 1 mJ, <10 ns pulses with a TEM00 mode and spectral output in the laser eyesafe regime around 1.5 microns. With a package size of ~1 cu. in. and a weight estimated at < 2 ounces, this laser would fulfill a market need for small size and weight, man-portable, eyesafe rangefinder sources.
Green lasers have found increasing use in the Non-Lethal Laser Dazzler field. The dazzler market has great potential both for DOD and for civilian law enforcement in the present security-conscious environment. This compact green source can be an enabler for broader adoption and application of dazzler technology.
The usefulness of the proposed architecture spans scientific, industrial, and defense applications. The proposed laser development represents a fundamental advancement in the state-of-the-art.

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.)
Lasers (Measuring/Sensing)

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