We propose to demonstrate feasibility for new glass capillary array (GCA) manufacturing techniques for making large format (≥100 × 100 mm2) imaging quality microchannel plate (MCP) electron amplifiers. MCPs are generally accepted to be essential components in low-noise, high-sensitivity photonic imagers. Incom's ALD-GCA-MCP technology offers several advantages for space-based imaging over conventional, lead-oxide-glass MCPs. Some of these advantages, such as large overall size, mechanical robustness, parameter-tunability, and long lifetime are relevant in other application areas, however, the aspect of imaging quality is not particularly relevant in these fields. The purpose of this proposal is to develop ALD-GCA-MCPs with the spatial resolution and uniformity suitable for use in the LUVOIR and HabEx missions while leveraging their otherwise superior characteristics. The proposed developments are technologically challenging, yet achievable, and will afford MCPs that meet the performance requirements for UV sensitive (115 - 400 nm) sealed tube photodetectors set forth by the LUVOIR and HabEx community and their STDT reports. We believe that all technology requirements for such detctors can be met only by using Incom’s MCP (“ALD-GCA-MCPs) and MCP-PMT (LAPPDTM) technologies as development platforms. While MCPs are only one (albeit one of the most critical) of the many components of the final UV instrument that require development, this SBIR program specifically focuses on meeting imaging resolution, uniformity and count rate requirements on the MCP level; aspects related to sealed tube design (low noise photocathodes (115-400 nm), and large area, high-resolution anodes (such as a cross-strip anode), incorporation into a sealed tube package capable of maintaining an ultra-high vacuum) are addressed in another grant application being made under this solicitation.
The LUVOIR UV Multi-Object Spectrograph (LUMOS) and the Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS) aboard HabEx will possess large focal planes that require large-area, high spatial resolution detectors to take full advantage of the planned multi-object spectrographs. Large format UV detectors are also outlined as a Priority 1 technology requirement in the Cosmic Origins Program Annual Technology report (NASA 440-RPT-0017). Large area, sealed tube MCP detectors are baselined for both LUMOS and UVS but the specified technology need to be developed.
Non-NASA commercial application include high Energy Physics instrumentation, novel laboratory instrumentation, and all other existing MCP-related applications with high spatial and timing resolution requirements such as TOF-MS, UV and electron spectrometers, night vision, and LIDAR applications. Success of this SBIR program will help Incom push further into and disrupt the established MCP market.