SBIR Phase I: Rectenna Based Broad Band Infrared Camera
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project seeks to develop a novel technique and device for high-speed uncooled room-temperature infrared (IR) imaging using micro-antennas and Metal-Insulator-Metal (MIM) rectifiers. These antenna-rectifier structures, called rectennas, will be built to convert electromagnetic waves at infrared frequencies to direct current proportional to infrared radiation intensity. This technology will pave the way for high-speed IR imaging which is currently unachievable by commonly used bolometers. This method will also achieve high-resolution IR imaging without cooling the detectors as is currently required by IR photo-detectors, Furthermore, through this SBIR, large size pixel arrays containing these rectenna elements will be designed and tested at infrared frequencies. To direct the design process, scaled prototypes on PCBs and integrated circuits that operate in the tens to hundreds of GHz range will be built. Testing and modeling of these scaled prototypes will then guide fabrication of arrays of rectennas that can operate in the THz range. Finally, readout circuits will be designed that scan the rectenna array and convert output to an IR intensity level. The scaled prototype results will be used in Phase II to implement the IR rectenna imager with readout circuitry. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will directly affect the scope of infrared (IR) imaging technology, and possibly bring it into the mainstream similar to the visible light digital cameras. IR cameras with limited cooling have obvious advantages, including the elimination of power-consuming cooling systems; a reduction in size, weight, and cost; and greater reliability (an increase in the useful life and mean time to failure). The number of applications potentially affected by near room temperature IR camera technology is widespread, including military applications such as battlefield sensors, surveillance, marine vision, firefighting devices, hand-held imagers, helmet-mounted sights, etc. This technology also has widespread civilian applications in areas such as thermography, process control, imaging interferometry, laser technology, long-wavelength optical communication, gas analyzers, and many others. An especially attractive large market will be in the automobile industry as an aid for driving at night and in limited visibility environments. Infrared cameras on satellites are being increasingly used for mapping resources on earth. A large sized rectenna based infrared focal plane array that can be fabricated using nanoimprinting would increase the spatial resolution of satellite based cameras.
Small Business Information at Submission:
MD Takoma Park, MD 20912-4671
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