NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 171 S1.11-8294
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Ocean Worlds Life Detection

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)
Dr. Bhabana Pati
135 South Road
Bedford, MA 01730 - 2307
(781) 275-9535 Extension :1811

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. B. David Green
135 South Road
Bedford, MA 01730 - 2307
(978) 689-0003

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Ocean Worlds Life Detection 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)
In response to the development of components to advance the maturity of science instruments focused on the detection of evidence of life in the Ocean Worlds, Q-Peak proposes to develop a compact, robust, efficient, and radiation hardened UV laser capable of detecting organic molecules by means of the laser desorption technique. When slightly modified, the laser can be used to advance the development of instruments suitable for deployment on in-situ planetary and lunar missions such as ExoMars and Mars 2020 to analyze mineral composition of rock samples by performing imaging/Laser-Raman/Laser-Induced-Breakdown spectroscopies. The advantage in using these techniques for planetary science is the ability to rapidly collect a wealth of chemical information, by directing a laser beam on target of interest.
In Phase I, Q-Peak proposes the development of an ultra-compact, passively Q-switched laser, < 10 cm3 in volume that will produce 0.1-0.3 mJ energy, < 2 ns, 266-nm pulses at 5 kHz repetition rates. This laser will be designed to survive shock, vibration, thermal cycling, and radiation.
In order to make a very compact laser, Q Peak will use diode pumped solid state laser technology to produce 1-2 mJ of energy at 1064 nm using a Cr4+:YAG saturable absorber as the passive Q-switch to eliminate the need for a high voltage supply which is required for actively Q-switched lasers. The output of the laser will be frequency converted in two stages to produce 266 nm via nonlinear crystals specifically selected to survive a high radiation environment. Compact electronics will also be designed from radiation hardened components.
In Phase II program, specially designed optical components will be procured to make the laser very compact and alignment insensitive; for example, bonded nonlinear crystals to minimize wavelength walk-off and maximize nonlinear conversion efficiency. The laser will be subjected to representative environmental condition to bring the TRL to 6.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Besides being useful for detecting present and past life in extra-terrestrial environments, the laser can be used, especially with its small foot print, on the lander/orbiter to provide ranging and imaging for autonomous landing and precision rendezvous to other satellites.
NASA remote sensing and LiDAR applications require compact, efficient, reliable, moderate-energy, nanosecond-pulsed lasers. These missions require improved precision technology compared with previously flown LiDAR technologies as well as greatly reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) given the resource-constrained class of missions likely to use this capability. Missions to solar system bodies must meet increasingly ambitious objectives requiring highly reliable soft and precision landing, hazard avoidance, topography mapping, autonomous rendezvous to other satellites, etc. Robotic missions to the Moon and Mars demand landing at pre-designated sites of high scientific value near hazardous terrain features, such as escarpments, craters, slopes, and rocks.
Given the high sensitivity of launch requirements to SWaP considerations and to reliability, we feel that the proposed laser source is uniquely positioned for elemental analysis as well as LiDAR remote sensing and autonomous landing based missions. Other NASA mission profiles or applications that would benefit from generically small, light-weight, low power laser sources would be equally well served.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
When a nonlinear crystal that generates UV light is removed, the ultra-compact laser source can produce wavelengths of 1 um or 0.5 um which find applications in lidar to map and image objects; a narrow laser-beam can map physical features with very high resolution. It can target a wide range of materials, including non-metallic objects, rocks, rain, chemical compounds, aerosols, clouds, and even single molecules. In particular, the 0.5-um wavelength penetrates water easily and is useful for bathymetry measurements in shallow water. The proposed laser can be used in the automotive safety and navigation, geography, law enforcement, meteorology, mining, robotics, and wind farm markets.
The proposed UV source at 266nm would have applications for the military for imaging through smoke, dust, smog, and brownouts. Very small form-factor UV source designs may also offer opportunity for free space communication. Other applications are in mass and Raman spectroscopy, the food and drug industry, material processing, ultraviolet curing, photolithography, medical services, spectral analysis, scientific research, disinfection, decontamination of surfaces and water, protein analysis, DNA sequencing, (DNA absorption has a peak at 260nm), forensic analysis and more.
With slight modification the laser can generate eye safe wavelengths. The Department of Defense has a constant need to advance the state of the art in the soldier-carried range finders that operate in eye safe wavelengths.

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)
Lasers (Machining/Materials Processing)
Lasers (Measuring/Sensing)

Form Generated on 04-19-17 12:59