NASA STTR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-1 T8.02-9741
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Photonic Integrated Circuits
PROPOSAL TITLE: Photonic IC Spectrometer for Spacecraft

NAME: Nanohmics, Inc. NAME: Catholic University of America
STREET: 6201 East Oltorf Street, Suite 400 STREET: 620 Michigan Avenue, Northeast
CITY: Austin CITY: Washington
STATE/ZIP: TX  78741 - 7509 STATE/ZIP: DC  20064 - 0001
PHONE: (512) 389-9990 PHONE: (202) 520-1620

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Mark Lucente Ph.D.
6201 East Oltorf Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78741 - 7509
(512) 389-9990

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Michael Mayo
6201 East Oltorf Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78741 - 7509
(512) 389-9990

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Photonic Integrated Circuits 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)
CubeSat/SmallSat bus infrastructure imposes stringent mass, power, footprint, and volume constraints on science instruments such as spectrometers. Nanohmics, Inc., proposes teaming with researchers at the Catholic University of America (CUA) to develop a real-time spectrometer that demonstrates photonic integrated circuit (IC) interferometric capabilities for the first time in the MWIR spectral band, and achieves extremely low size, weight and power (SWaP). The Nanohmics/CUA team proposes in Phase I to design and fabricate a proof of concept (PoC) photonic IC spectrometer operating in the MWIR, with TRL 3. Laboratory testing of the Phase I photonic IC device will strengthen the scaled-up photonic IC spectrometer prototype design for Phase II. The CUA research partner will perform finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) modeling and simulation. In Phase II, the team will fabricate and test the scaled-up photonic IC spectrometer prototype, achieving TRL 6. The photonic IC spectrometer uses an array of interferometers that are microfabricated on the IC to output a real-time spatial interference pattern that is similar to the spectrograph obtained via time-scanning in Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) such as Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTIR). However, the photonic IC spectrograph is instantaneous and obtained by an instrument with no moving parts, similar to a class of devices called a spatial heterodyne spectrometer (SHS). A stack of photonic IC spectrometers acts as a one-dimensional (1D) imaging array and performs hyperspectral imaging for remote sensing and other applications. Wavelengths in the MWIR range (~3-5 micrometers) will allow the use of common microfabrication techniques and materials, which will keep costs low. Our expertise in developing planar waveguide structures places Nanohmics in a unique position for fabricating photonic IC spectrometers.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed miniaturized photonic IC spectrometer will be well-suited to spacecraft integration due to extreme low-SWaP, low cost and no moving parts. A miniaturized, chip-scale spectrometer will help achieve the science goals of missions using small satellite systems, such as CubeSats and SmallSats, to exploit extensive molecular signatures diagnostic of earth and planetary atmospheres and surfaces, mineral features surfaces of rocky bodies, and volatile emission from primitive bodies (e.g., comets). Nanohmics proposes the integration of its low-SWaP real-time photonic IC spectrometer technology into CubeSats and planetary missions, including telescope assemblies used for work being done at NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Monolithic spacecraft can also benefit from the reduced SWaP-C of the photonic IC spectrometer. The photonic IC stack achieves a 1D array of spatial pixels, useful for push-broom hyperspectral mapping. Further miniaturization can lead to expansion to a 2D array with real-time hyperspectral imaging capabilities. The core photonic IC spectrometer technology can also be developed into a range of other device. For example, the photonic IC spectrometer can be developed into a lab-on-a-chip that can be used as an in-situ instrument or sensor for applications such as planetary missions, astronaut health monitoring, and landers/rovers for point-spectroscopy.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Leveraging our on-going commercialization and sales of high-performance optical instruments and other photonic technologies, we plan to rapidly commercialize our proposed photonic IC spectrometer. This low-cost, low-SWaP technology will be valuable to government (including Department of Defense), commercial, and university R&D, for cost-effective Earth and planetary science applications. Most of the NASA applications stated above are possible non-NASA commercialization opportunities as well. A small spacecraft or aircraft can perform valuable remote sensing spectral analysis using a photonic IC spectrometer operating in the MWIR or LWIR spectral bands. For example, the photonic IC spectrometer can be used by the USGS Spectroscopy Laboratory in its effort to map different characteristics of Earth. Military vehicles/sensors can monitor surroundings for situational awareness, such as disturbed earth or other indicators of possible enemy activity. Such remote sensing exploits the fact that molecular species of interest have diagnostic vibrational bands in the 1-10 μm infrared (IR) spectral region, approximately the mid-wave IR (MWIR) and the long-wave IR (LWIR) spectral bands. The proposed photonic IC interferometer can be rapidly commercially produced with the help of the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI).

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.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Detectors (see also Sensors)
Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors)
Image Analysis

Form Generated on 04-26-16 15:16