NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation
FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY
|PROPOSAL NUMBER:||171 H9.01-8966|
|SUBTOPIC TITLE:||Long Range Optical Telecommunications|
|PROPOSAL TITLE:||InGaAs Photomultiplier Chip photon counting array for 1550 nm operation|
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
LightSpin Technologies, Inc.
Endicott, NY 13761 - 7140
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Eric Harmon Ph.D.
314 Main Street
Norfolk, MA 02056 - 1352
CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Endicott, NY 13761 - 7140
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Long Range Optical Telecommunications 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)
The development of a robust approach for Deep Space Optical Communications is critical to future space missions as communication bandwidth requirements are expected to dramatically increase due to continuing improvements in sensor spectral coverage and resolution. Current solutions do not meet NASAs goals for sensitivity, timing resolution, and data rate. Furthermore, many of the current solutions require cryocooling, which significantly impacts size, weight, and power, as well as reliability. LightSpin Technologies proposes the development of a new generation of single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array devices to fulfill NASA requirements. The innovation includes a new planar processing technology, enabling tight pitch SPAD arrays to be built, mitigating after pulsing and dead time limitations. Furthermore, we propose to use InAlAs gain regions, which have significant advantages due to its avalanche breakdown characteristics and wider band gap compared to InP. The net result at the end of Phase II will be a Photomultiplier Chip SPAD array device incorporating thousands of small area SPAD devices in parallel, enabling precision detection of single photons with sub 100 picosecond timing resolution and maximum count rates in excess of 10 Gcps.
POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Successful completion of this SBIR project will result in the development of a InAlAs-InGaAs Photomultiplier Chip with performance that far exceeds the state-of-the-art, particularly with respect to single photon sensitivity, dark count rate, timing resolution, and dynamic range. Furthermore, this will be achievable using only modest cooling (200 K operation anticipated), greatly reducing size, weight, and power. We envision a quadrant detector module suitable for both tracking and long range optical communications at 1550 nm. This receiver can be used for both ground based and space based platforms, enabling a broad network of optical communications links to be developed. In addition to deep space optical communications, the technology has immediate application to a range of NASA applications, including laser ranging (ladar, altimetry, mapping) and remote sensing (lidar).]
Beyond the immediate scope of the proposed Phase I-Phase II project include imaging applications using either a single SPAD element per imaging pixel as well as a small SPAD array (array-of-arrays) per imaging pixel. Imaging arrays can greatly enhance remote sensing applications, including flash ladar for hazard warning, navigation, and docking.
POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Beyond NASA specific commercial applications, a wide range of commercial applications are directly enabled. These include free space optical communications, including satellite data links and military communications applications, as well as quantum secure communications and quantum computing.
Remote sensing is a particularly attractive commercial application, given the compatibility with eye-safe lasers. Autonomous vehicles are expected to rapidly gain market share, due in large part to the availability of sensors such as lidar. Currently, many of these lidar systems operate at wavelengths of 800 -- 1100 nm, which are not considered eye-safe. This means that these systems must use attenuated laser beams to prevent eye damage, and therefore have range, spatial resolution, and frame rate limitations. Extending these systems to eyes-safe wavelengths has the potential to greatly improve range, spatial resolution and frame rate. While the barrier to entry into the automobile market is significant, military and aviation markets will have a lower barrier to entry and are likely to favor the price/performance ratio for long range, eye-safe lidar sensors.
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.)
Detectors (see also Sensors)
Materials (Insulator, Semiconductor, Substrate)
Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)
Spacecraft Instrumentation & Astrionics (see also Communications; Control & Monitoring; Information Systems)
Waveguides/Optical Fiber (see also Optics)