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DoD 2013.3 SBIR Solicitation

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Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Program/Year: SBIR / 2013
Solicitation Number: 2013.3
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Open Date: August 26, 2013
Close Date: September 25, 2013
DTRA133-001: Metal-Oxides as Radiation-Hard Microelectronic Channel Materials
Description: OBJECTIVE: Design and develop radiation hardened electronic device prototypes using metal-oxide channel materials to test the feasibility and scalability of these materials in technology. DESCRIPTION: The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Basic Research Program supports research on the basic science of radiation effects in microelectronics and radiation hard microelectronic materials and devices. Radiation hardened microelectronics are critical for future Department of Defense (DoD) systems where devices are required to function in high radiation environments. Environments with high levels of ionizing radiation can cause both single event effects (SEE) and total ionizing dose (TID) effects in sensitive microelectronics. Furthermore, as device components continue to get smaller the aspects of the physics that are most important in describing the interaction of radiation with these new materials are changing compared to the older generations of electronic devices. In order to ensure reliable operation of DoD systems in the presence of ionizing radiation, as well as enhance overall performance, developers must provide a means of confirming the integrated circuits are hardened to radiation effects. General performance criteria to be addressed include: ease of integration into current CMOS manufacturing processes; weight; cost; performance (resistance to SEE and TID) in radiation environment; reproducibility. Of specific interest are metal-oxides channel materials, such as nanocrystalline ZnO thin films, which have recently demonstrated significant potential for radiation hardness. Such devices have recently attracted attention due their potential in high speed circuits, microwave amplifiers, ultra-low power circuits, sensors, and thin film circuits compatible with Si CMOS ICs. PHASE I: 1) Identify and define potential metal-oxide microelectronic devices for radiation hard electronics. 2) Provide a path forward for prototype design, radiation testing, evaluation, and fabrication. PHASE II: Develop, fabricate, and validate these prototype components for their improvement in radiation resistance over conventional circuits, cost and weight implications, reliability, and reproducibility. Develop a scalable process and business plan to manufacture the microelectronic component(s). PHASE III: DUAL USE APPPLICATIONS: Successful product will support Military and Commercial Land, Sea, Air, and Space-based radar, communications, and sensor applications.
DTRA133-002: Indirect Detection of Radiological and Nuclear Threats by Non-atmospheric Effect Techniques
Description: OBJECTIVE: Conventional means of detecting radiological and nuclear threats (e.g., scintillator, semiconductor, ionization detectors) are limited by the range of the emitted particle (i.e., gamma, neutron, alpha, beta) between the source and detector. As an alternative to this constraint, we seek proposals to develop new modalities or improve upon previously investigated concepts for locating or sensing radiological or nuclear threats by means of indirect signatures that utilize non-atmospheric effects. While a heavy investment has been and continues to be made in conventional detection methods, this topic aims to complement those methods with additional or improved capabilities. Indirect signatures detection is a category that could include a number of modalities. As such, specific capabilities and parameters are difficult to identify; however, means are being sought to extend the detection range, increase sensitivity, and/or reduce size/weight/cube beyond that of traditional detectors. DESCRIPTION: DTRA seaks to improve capabilities for detecting nulear and radiological material of interest by innovative means. A previous SBIR solicitation, DTRA122-014, called for"the detection of a radioactive material by means other than by the direct interaction of gammas or neutrons emitted by the source."In addition to the persuit of indirect detection of such sources, DTRA is now following-up with the additional requirement that such detection be performed by means utizing non-atmospheric effects. For the purposes of this topic, atmospheric effects refers to the changes induced on atmospheric species from ionizing radiation that can be observed. Examples include O3 production via radiolysis and N2 and NOX excitation by secondary electrons. It has been proposed that the detection of these species or their spectral lines can indicate the presence of radiation. As an alternate approach, this topic seeks to locate or detect the presence of materials of interest by alternative means other than those indicated by atmospheric effects. As an example, in recent years several efforts have been undertaken to investigate gravity gradiometric approachs for detecting radiological material. Other concepts investigated have included RF and thermographic signatures. It is envisioned that this will most likely occur by observing physical or chemical characteristics of radioactive material (e.g. density, temperature, acustic) or their non-atmospheric effects of the surrounding environment. PHASE I: Development of the proof-of-concept through a laboratory device/setup or equivalent environment for the capability of locating or detecting radiological or nuclear material of interest or other strong indicators such as shielding material or configurations. In this phase, the proof-of-concept must be able to show that further development is likely to lead to a product with one or more capabilities that improve operational utility beyond current COTS detectors. A design concept for a prototype will be delivered and an evaluation of its feasibility and utility will be a key decision point for continuation to Phase II. PHASE II: Phase II must develop a prototype detector that can be validated independently. The results should be quantitatively compared to those of existing technologies in the same environments. Relative cost/benefit studies should be performed to demonstrate the advantages of the new technology. The Phase II final report should include a development plan and partnering approach for follow-on production and fielding along with a roadmap that takes the development through Phase III. PHASE III: Explore marketing and production alliances with existing technology equipment firms that currently have market share in these various commercial markets and under the prevue of export restrictions that may apply. For the military applications, continue the development of the technology and equipment design so that it can be transitioned to a counter-WMD program of record.
DTRA133-003: Portable Neutron Detector with Spectroscopic and Directional Sensitivity
Description: OBJECTIVE: DTRA seeks a 3He-free portable neutron detector with spectroscopic capability and directional sensitivity, derived from measurement of count rates within a highly granular array of thermal neutron detectors dispersed within a moderator. The device will be able to detect, locate and characterize threat neutron sources in the field. DESCRIPTION: Neutron spectroscopy can offer a significant advantage in the detection and characterization of Special Nuclear Materials (SNM), when compared to gross counting neutron detectors. The energy of incident neutrons can be used to characterize the source (fission neutrons vs. background), identify the level of moderation, or the source distance. A class of detectors has been proposed that consist of granular arrays of thermal neutron detectors distributed in a regular pattern within moderator. Such detectors can measure the detailed spatial distribution of neutron detections within the moderator and thereby achieve spectroscopic classification as well as directional information. In order to achieve such measurements up to energies of 20 MeV rather large moderators and detection volume is required. Detection systems thus far proposed for this application, either scintillator based neutron scatter camera or solid state neutron detector based neutron spectrometer, limit the size and thus energy and directional response of the instruments because of their high cost and electronic complexity. This topic seeks detector/moderator/electronic solutions that can readily support the field requirements of DTRA. A successful design will address the need for portability and affordable cost, while achieving high detection efficiency for fission neutrons, sufficient energy resolution and directional sensitivity. PHASE I: Develop the design of a3He-free neutron detector capable of spectroscopy and 3-dimensional position encoding. The detector must be sensitive in the full energy range from thermal up to 20 MeV, covering the range of threat fission sources. Energy discrimination must be adequate to distinguish fission sources from higher energy sources used frequently in commerce such as AmBe sources. The direction of threat sources must be shown to be achievable with an angular resolution of 5-10 degrees. Complete modeling studies to demonstrate that the instrument to be constructed in Phase II will achieve these requirements. In addition to modeling studies, construct and demonstrate a subscale system. Conduct testing of this system response to 252Cf and AmBe sources, demonstrating the ability to distinguish the two sources and to grade the level of source moderation by shielding of the sources with HDPE of progressive thickness. Conduct directional testing to determine feasibility of achieving the required angular sensitivity in the Phase II instrument. Develop electronics to demonstrate feasibility of achievement of a low power (<5 Watts) solution in Phase II. The weight of the electronics should introduce only a small fraction of overall weight in addition to the unavoidable moderator weight (<5% is desired). PHASE II: Build and test a full-scale detector according to the final design developed in Phase I, including associated electronics, as required for energy and directional resolution. Testing is to be conducted outdoors, in realistic scenarios, with the detector operated inside a moving vehicle, and with neutron sources at distances greater than 10 m. Also, software required to process the detector signals and identify the energy and location of the source neutrons will be developed and demonstrated. PHASE III: Team with a National Laboratory or commercial partner to develop a commercial search instrument for military applications of interest to DTRA as well as domestic applications in the Secure the Cities Initiative and other DHS and State and Local security applications. Separate teaming with commercial companies should be explored in development of more sophisticated dosimetry measuring devices for both military and civilian uses.