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Radiation Hardened Interceptor Seeker Sensor Technologies



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Sensors

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation.

OBJECTIVE: Design, develop, and demonstrate high performance long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensor technologies for interceptor systems that can resist or ameliorate the deleterious effects of radiation in the near-Earth orbital environment.

DESCRIPTION: Over the course of an engagement, an interceptor seeker may be exposed to background radiation or radiation resulting from nuclear events (including x-ray, prompt and persistent gamma, single event effects, total ionizing dose, and optical flash) which may adversely affect sensor components (e.g. focal plane arrays, readout integrated circuits, memories, processors, and other electronic components). This topic seeks innovative sensor technologies that are radiation-hardened either by process, by design, by architecture, or by a combination of these approaches. Ideally, hardening approaches should enable sensors to survive and reliably operate in these environments without increasing weight or decreasing performance. In addition, more information on radiation degradation mechanisms and the degree of radiation hardness achieved through various hardening approaches is desired.

PHASE I: Identify the LWIR sensor component or subsystem which is assessed to be vulnerable to the space radiation environment specified above and elaborate on the specific phenomenology involved. Document proposed techniques to improve the sensor component or subsystem design that enhance the radiation hardness and compare to available experimental results. Report should include a plan to experimentally test proposed techniques and incorporate them into the sensor system. Any limitations of the proposed techniques (specifically for radiation intensity or duration) should be identified, along with mitigation techniques which might be reasonably implemented during Phase II.

PHASE II: Implement the concepts developed in Phase I with the identified improvements. Results should be extrapolated to device operation within the orbital environment or perform experiments within a space environment simulator that replicates or closely approximates the spectrum of radiation in the orbital environment. Approaches based on theoretical methods should be experimentally validated. Sensor performance and service life should be estimated. Projects should identify device improvements that could extend service life and test a radiation resistant prototype in an orbital environment simulator or reasonable analogue. Validation of results at the component level is encouraged.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Manufacture IR sensor components that incorporate the design(s) developed in Phase II. Document their performance in a realistic space radiation simulator or a suitable analogue. Perform a prolonged, mission simulation test in which the subsystems are operated within the radiation environment specified above. Report on their expected performance, service life, operational limits, and market forecasts based on the results of those tests.


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KEYWORDS: strained layer superlattice, radiation resistance, radiation hardened, long wavelength infrared, LWIR, focal plane array, FPA, interceptor seeker

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