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Infrared Light Emitting Diode Arrays for Target Image Projection



The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the AF SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Gail Nyikon,

OBJECTIVE: Develop a higher- efficiency, frame-rate, and resolution alternative to current hardware-in-the-loop scene projectors by advancing IRLED array emitter technology.

DESCRIPTION: The state-of-the-art in infrared scene projection uses micro-machined resistor arrays to playback dynamic calibrated movies of target scene phenomenology. These devices, while a proven and mature technology, are limited in frame-rate and dynamic range, and the yield prohibitively drives cost when array size is increased beyond 512x512 pixels. These limitations continue to drive alternative technologies, most notably infrared light emitting diode (IRLED) arrays. IRLED arrays generate photons through transition of electrons between energy states, as opposed to temperature driven blackbody radiation from micro-resistors. Challenges in the maturation of the IRLED technology include pixel design for photon generation efficiency (elimination of waste heat), band broadening to ensure a wider application range, extension to longer wavelengths (8-12 microns), read-in integrated circuit (RIIC) design, monolithic pixel array/RIIC design, multi-color pixels, and pixel size. The goal of this topic is advance the state-of-the-art of IRLED array technology, addressing the fundamental limitations and challenges for this technology. In particular, it is desired that the design of pixel active area should efficiently generate MWIR photon flux levels in a one micron band representative of blackbody emission up to 2000 Kelvin and with pixel response times on the order of 4 ms or less. For the end application, in a closed-loop test environment, sensor integration time and spatial mapping may change unpredictably. Because of this, a temporally uniform photon flux during the frame time is desired, as opposed to temporal modulation schemes that would require tight synchronization of the sensor/projector combination. Pixel pitch, based on array yield considerations and compatibility with optical requirements, should be sized to nominally 24 microns. Technology should be scalable to array sizes of 2048x2048 or greater. It is required that the products of this SBIR are testable devices that demonstrate advances in the state-of-the art and the potential for direct scalability up to sizes compatible with end use applications. Products from this SBIR will be evaluated in Air Force Research Laboratory's KHILS facilities to establish performance metrics including efficiency, dynamic range, temporal response, and output stability.

PHASE I: Investigate, formulate, and fabricate IRLEDs demonstrating design alternatives for active materials and enhanced pixel characteristics. Deliver device samples to AFRL for further characterization.

PHASE II: Down-select and produce pixel arrays scalable to production arrays sizes and compatible with RIIC design options. Quantitatively characterize advances in the state-of-the-art and establish a plan to transition the technology to commercial activities.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition technology into programs developing production arrays for distribution to DoD facilities and commercial test sets for fielded sensors.


    • High performance photodiodes based on InAs/InAsSb type-II superlattices for very long wavelength infrared detection, Hoang, A. M. and Chen, G. and Chevallier, R. and Haddadi, A. and Razeghi, M., Applied Physics Letters, 104, 251105 (2014), OI:


    • Gallium free type II inAs/InAsxSb1-x superllatice photodetectors, Schuler-Sandy, T. and Myers, S. and Klein, B. and Gautam, N. and Ahirwar, P. et al., Applied Physics Letters, 101, 071111 (2012) DOI:


  • “Effective and apparent temperature calculations and performance analysis of mid-wave infrared light emitting diodes for use in infrared scene projection,” Golden, E. M. and Rapp, R. J.,Proc. SPIE Vol. 7663, 766304 (Apr. 23, 2010).

KEYWORDS: Galium Free, Ga-Free, Infrared Light Emitting Diode, IRLED Array, Infrared Scene Projection, Gallium Antimonide, GaSb, MWIR Detectors

  • TPOC-1: Ronald Rapp
  • Phone: 850-882-3390
  • Email:
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