SBIR Phase I: Development of a Long Life Microchannel Plate Photomultiplier Tube for High Flux Applications through the Innovative Application of Nanofilms

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Arradiance, Inc.
MA, Sudbury, MA, 01776-1122
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Neal Sullivan
(888) 949-4441
Business Contact:
Neal Sullivan
(888) 949-4441
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes a revolutionary approach to extending the lifetime of microchannel plate (MCP) photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) using atomic layer deposited (ALD) nanofilms to suppress the creation of damaging positive ions. The technical and intellectual merits of this proposal are noteworthy: our state-of-the-art ALD capabilities will transform mature MCP technology, creating the capability for high flux detection. Previous attempts to improve MCP-PMT capabilities in this area have resulted in reduced responsiveness and resolution. We have obtained preliminary results which have attracted the attention of major companies in the image intensifier industry, demonstrating a strong market interest should this feasibility study succeed. The major points of the research plan are i) to optimize the nanofilm properties, ii) to apply the optimized film to commercial MCPs obtained from an industrial partner, iii) to insert the modified MCPs into a special prototype device, and iv) to test this enhanced device and evaluate its performance, in conjunction with the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). The assembled team is well-matched to this proposal, featuring a combination of our ALD process and materials science skills with UTA's detector development prowess, while taking advantage of excellent facilities at both institutions. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is substantial. Image intensification detection devices incorporating MCPs are currently widely used in applications where single photon counting or low light level detection are required. The impact of a device with dramatically improved lifetime ranges from enabling cutting-edge particle physics experiments with exciting discovery potential in the areas of CP violation and Higgs properties, to homeland security applications, to commercial applications such as night vision devices. The testing of the new MCP-PMTs will be carried out by undergraduate students at UTA, which has been commended as being one of the nation's top universities for Hispanic students. The students will develop expertise in fast timing, lasers, and data analysis, as well as presentation skills. This proposal thus supports the mission of the NSF to promote discoveries and advance education, while meeting the goals of the SBIR program by stimulating technological innovation and transforming scientific discovery into both social and economic benefit. It is estimated that the potential market opportunity that would be available to this technology, across all of the described technology domains, is in excess of $8 million over the next 5 years.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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