You are here

Bright ELectron and Light Sources (BELLS) - SBIR XL

Description:

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Biomedical OBJECTIVE: The goal of BELLS is to demonstrate and commercialize practical sources of intense, tunable electrons and monochromatic hard x-rays. These sources would support transformative capabilities for applications such as non-destructive inspection, medical diagnostics, and treatments. DESCRIPTION: BELLS will develop compact sources of monoenergetic electrons and photons suitable for demonstrating a range of transformative medical and non-destructive inspection applications with the overall goal of defining a minimum viable product (MVP) for commercialization. BELLS contains two subtopics that will be executed in parallel. Subtopic 1 focuses on maturing existing laboratory scale systems to demonstrate application feasibility and further productization. Subtopic 2 seeks to mature specific component technologies to be integrated into Subtopic 1 laboratory-scale systems that provide brightness enhancements enabling additional applications and productization opportunities. Subtopic 1: Demonstration and Productization. High-quality electron and photon sources are of broad interest for a range of security, industrial, and medical applications. Recent advances in photoinjectors[1], linear accelerators[2], high power lasers[3], and a range of ancillary technologies have resulted in several prototype systems that provide novel, compact testbeds for investigating these applications. However, further maturation and demonstration of these technologies is needed to realize systems with commercialization potential. The purpose of this subtopic is to mature testbed system(s) demonstrating one or more applications and to define minimum viable commercial product(s). High-quality electrons produced from photoinjectors and linear accelerators offer utility by themselves as well as the ability to produce bright monoenergetic x-rays through laser-Compton interactions[4]. Controlling the accelerator power allows the energy of electrons and x-rays to be tuned. For x-rays, it is possible to achieve synchrotron-like performance while achieving higher energies (100s of keV to MeV energies) in highly compact form factors. Very high-energy electron beams (100s of MeV) and bright light sources enable a range of applications including, but not limited to: • Medical imaging, including phase contrast • Medical radiotherapy, including FLASH and theranostics • Nondestructive test and evaluation, including high resolution tomography and semiconductor metrology. The effort will not just explore the technical applications of these sources, but also the business cases, economic impacts, and regulatory requirements for such technologies to be broadly employed. These studies will support jump-starting medical and industrial activity in this sector, leading to commercially viable system designs. Subtopic 2: Brightness Enhancements. Application performance can often be improved with increased source brightness, i.e. intensity and purity. This subtopic seeks to enhance the testbed(s)/prototype(s) of Subtopic 1 by advancing and integrating new component technology. Examples of such technology could include improvements in laser systems, electron systems, spot size reduction strategies, Fabry-Perot cavities, pulse stacking, and pulse recirculation. PHASE I: BELLS is a direct to Phase II SBIR XL program only; there is no Phase I. Proposers must provide experimental evidence of their approach concept commensurate to a Phase I effort that achieves significant performance. Specifically, proposers must provide evidence of existing performance in the three technology areas described below: • Photoinjector o C-band or higher frequency o Support microamp or greater average currents o Support micropulse structures at RF frequencies at macro system repetition rates of 100 Hz or greater o > 10 pC of charge produced per incident laser pulse o Support electron energy of 5 MeV or greater o Normalized emittance of 1 µm or better • Electron accelerator o C-band or higher frequency o Acceleration gradients 50 MV/m or greater o Support electron energy of 50 MeV or greater o Support 10 micron or smaller laser-Compton interaction spot sizes • Interaction laser o Support 10 micron or smaller laser-Compton interaction spot sizes o Sufficient energy to support laser-Compton applications generating > 30 keV photons PHASE II: Subtopic 1: Demonstrations and Productization Proposers must apply to Subtopic 1 to be eligible to apply to Subtopic 2. Subtopic 2 will run concurrently with Subtopic 1. The purpose of this subtopic is to mature existing laboratory scale systems into platforms demonstrating one or more applications, and defining a minimum viable commercial product for supporting those applications. Proposers must clearly and quantitatively describe the existing laboratory system that can support laser-Compton x-ray generation. This includes key subsystems such as photoinjector, linear electron accelerator, interaction laser, and precision subsystem synchronization. Proposers must also choose at least one application (preferably more) and describe in detail how the existing laboratory scale system can be used to develop and mature a testbed enabling productization. This must include both a technical description and an economic analysis supporting commercial viability of the approach. This analysis must also include participation by one or more relevant stakeholders able to employ this product for the described application(s). In addition, the system must support the performance metrics in the table below for photon production. Parameter Threshold Objective Intensity Intensity (photons/s) > 10^9 > 10^10 Repetition Rate (Hz) > 100 > 1000 Energy Minimum (keV) > 100 > 300 Purity Bandwidth (dE/E) < 10% < 0.1% Here, “threshold” indicates the minimum acceptable performance levels while “objective” levels are highly desired. The base period will focus on completing a BELLS testbed capable of producing relevant levels of electrons and laser-Compton photons for the chosen application(s). Performers will conduct outreach to customers, stakeholders, industrial partners, and regulators to engage in testbed use. Option period 1 will focus on testbed demonstration and characterization activities, and develop system requirements for a minimum viable product. System characterization supporting the laser-Compton performance metrics above is expected. Option period 2 continues testbed activities while further developing the minimum viable product through a critical design review. Active participation of customers, stakeholders, industrial partners, and regulators (as appropriate) is required throughout both option periods. Base period (6 months) milestones: • Month 1: Kickoff slide deck summarizing technical approach to meet overall goals, risks, and risk mitigations, and quantified milestone schedule • Month 3: Testbed build interim report • Month 6: Testbed build final report Option period 1 (6 months) milestones: • Month 1: Testbed demonstration kickoff materials, with stakeholder participation • Month 3: Testbed characterization report • Month 6: Testbed demonstration interim report, MVP system requirements review report Option period 2 (6 months) milestones: • Month 1: Testbed stakeholder engagement and transition report • Month 3: MVP preliminary design review report • Month 6: Testbed demonstration final report, MVP critical design review report Monthly written technical progress reports will supplement the above milestones (see template under SBIR/STTR BAA DOCUMENTS at https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/for-small-businesses/participate-sbir-sttr-program). Subtopic 2: Brightness Enhancements Proposers can propose to Subtopic 2 within their Subtopic 1 proposal. This subtopic seeks to enhance the testbed(s) of subtopic 1 by advancing and integrating component technology – specifically, laser-Compton performance to improve brightness, supporting commercially-relevant applications. Proposers must clearly describe the new component technology and anticipated testbed performance increases. Increases in performance must enable an additional application or improve the commercial prospects of the minimum viable product. Development timelines must align to integration into the testbed by the end of the option period 1. The Base period will focus on developing component technology to enhance brightness. During the option period 1, components will be refined and integrated into the testbed. During the option period 2, the enhanced testbed will be tested to verify performance, assess improvements in testbed capabilities, and enable further minimum viable product definition. Base period (6 months) milestones: • Month 1: Kickoff slide deck summarizing technical approach to meet overall goals, risks, and risk mitigations, and quantified milestone schedule • Month 3: Testbed enhancement preliminary design review report • Month 6: Testbed enhancement critical design review report Option period 1 (6 months) milestones: • Month 1: Testbed enhancement integration readiness report • Month 3: Testbed enhancement interim report • Month 6: Testbed enhancement final report Option period 2 (6 months) milestones: • Month 1: Enhanced testbed stakeholder engagement and transition report • Month 3: Enhanced testbed characterization report • Month 6: Final system performance report Monthly written technical progress reports will supplement the above milestones (see template under SBIR/STTR BAA DOCUMENTS at https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/for-small-businesses/participate-sbir-sttr-program). PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The successful development of such electron and x-ray sources supports a range of medical and non-destructive inspection applications. These include microbeam radiation diagnostic procedures, FLASH e-beam/x-ray radiotherapy, and innovations in theranostics. These sources would also be of high interest to the semiconductor industry for nanometrology and in-line inspection at semiconductor foundries, to include fraud detection. Successful proposals for this SBIR offering must make significant arguments supporting the commercial viability of their approach. Hence, proposals must provide initial evidence that their laboratory scale systems have sufficient technical maturity and performance characteristics that would support economically viable applications with development into a minimally viable product. Proposals for Subtopic 2 must make arguments that the proposed enhancement(s) could significantly advance the economics of productization of their system concepts. Transition and commercialization (T-C) milestones have been added as part of the option periods to aid in assuring commercial viability REFERENCES: 1. Performance of a second generation X-band rf photoinjector, Marsh et al., Phys. Rev. Accel. Beams 21, 073401, 2018 2. Design and demonstration of a distributed-coupling linear accelerator structure, Tantawi et al., Phys. Rev. Accel. Beams 23, 092001, 2020 3. 1 kHz repetition rate 1.1 J picosecond laser, Wang et al., Laser Congress AM2A.4, 2021 4. Photon flux and spectrum of ?-rays Compton sources, V. Petrillo et al., Nucl. Instrum. Methods Phys. Res A, 693, 109-116, 2012 KEYWORDS: Monochromatic hard x-rays, tunable electrons.
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government