Tailoring the Solar Spectrum for Enhanced Crop Yield for Space Missions

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC18P2144
Agency Tracking Number: 188052
Amount: $124,998.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T7
Solicitation Number: STTR_18_P1
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-27
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-08-26
Small Business Information
134 Eastgate Drive, Los Alamos, NM, 87544-3336
DUNS: 079401962
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Matthew Bergren
 (505) 310-6766
Business Contact
 Matthew Bergren
Phone: (505) 310-6766
Email: matt@ubiqd.com
Research Institution
 University of Arizona
 1177 E. 4th Street, Shantz Building
Tucson, AZ, 85721-0038
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)

UbiQD, Inc, is partnered with the University of Arizona, Controlled Environment Agriculture Center to enhance the lighting component of the Mars-Lunar Greenhouse prototype to improve the food production for the system. Ultimately, the goals is for UbiQD to install a down-conversion film composed of Quantum Dots (QDs) into the solar collecting/fiber optic system to not only provide higher quality PAR spectrum than currently using, but by converting the high concentration of UV photons to visible photons, UbiQD would be able to dramatically increase the intensity of the PAR spectrum provided to the plants.

In this project, we will prove the feasibility of using a spectrum-modifying film to improve the quality of light given to a plant, which will lead to more efficient growth and better crop yields. By demonstrating the quality of the light spectrum also plays an important role in growing plants efficiently, UbiQD and the University of Arizona will feel confident in moving on to the next steps of integrating the QD technology into a solar collection device for the Lunar/Mars Greenhouse, and moving closer to designing a plant growth chamber that could be deployed on longer manned space missions.

To demonstrate the feasibility that changing the quality of incident light by using a down-converting film will improve lettuce crop yield, two different Ag-Films will be fabricated and used to modify the light spectrum from a Xenon (Xe) lamp system (which best mimics solar irradiation). Then a crop study will be conducted on lettuce crops grown in an indoor hydroponic grow system, where three different sets of lettuce will be grown under the spectrally-modified films.

We will also model and estimate the improvement in crop production compared to previous crop production values measured under high pressure sodium  lighting in the Mars-Lunar Greenhouse prototype by both utilizing the Ag-film's ability to convert UV light to PAR as well as improving the overall quality of PAR light.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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