USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Radiation-Tolerant Vertical-Cavity Amplifying Detectors for Time-of-Flight…

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Aerius Photonics, LLC.
2223 Eastman Ave., Suite B Suite B Ventura, CA -
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Radiation-Tolerant Vertical-Cavity Amplifying Detectors for Time-of-Flight Laser Rangefinders
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNX11CF29P
Award Amount: $99,981.00


The harsh radiation environment anticipated during the Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) presents a significant challenge to develop radiation-hardened notional instruments. A high-performance, radiation-tolerant detector is required for the time-of-flight laser altimeter system on the Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO), which will perform critical characterization of Europa's topography, ocean tides, and ice shelf. Avalanche photodiodes (APDs) are conventionally chosen as detectors for standard laser altimeter systems. However, the performance of APDs degrades significantly after exposure to high levels of radiation. Aerius Photonics proposes to develop a novel radiation-tolerant detector that is suitable for use in space-based laser-altimeter systems by integrating a Vertical-Cavity Semiconductor Optical Amplifier (VCSOA) with a PIN photodetector. The resulting device, known as a Vertical-Cavity Amplifying Detector (VCAD), is expected to provide high-gain, high-speed, low-noise detection and demonstrate significant improvements in radiation tolerance over APDs. The optical preamplification provided by the VCSOA, along with its operation as a forward-biased majority-carrier device, renders the VCAD system insensitive to radiation-induced increases in detector dark current noise and receiver electronics noise. The VCAD is also expected to be significantly less susceptible to single event transients (SETs) than an APD. Aerius Photonics has expertise in VCSOA development and has already demonstrated basic radiation tolerance of VCSOAs to 300 krad with gamma radiation and to 300 krad with 63 MeV protons. In Phase I of this program, Aerius will design, fabricate and characterize VCADs that have been exposed to a more comprehensive radiation test plan that will include conditions anticipated on the EJSM.

Principal Investigator:

Timothy Strand
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

John Baumann
Business Official
Small Business Information at Submission:

Aerius Photonics, LLC
2223 Eastman Avenue, Suite B Ventura, CA 93003-8050

EIN/Tax ID: 200992331
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No