Radiation-Tolerant Vertical-Cavity Amplifying Detectors for Time-of-Flight Laser Rangefinders

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$99,981.00
Award Year:
2011
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase I
Contract:
NNX11CF29P
Award Id:
n/a
Agency Tracking Number:
105424
Solicitation Year:
2010
Solicitation Topic Code:
S1.04
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Aerius Photonics, LLC (Currently Aerius Photonics, LLC.)
2223 Eastman Avenue, Suite B, Ventura, CA, 93003-8050
Hubzone Owned:
N
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
145925520
Principal Investigator:
Timothy Strand
Principal Investigator
(805) 642-4645
tstrand@aeriusphotonics.com
Business Contact:
John Baumann
Business Official
(805) 642-4645
baumann@aeriusphotonics.com
Research Institution:
Stub




Abstract
The harsh radiation environment anticipated during the Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) presents a significant challenge to develop radiation-hardened notional instruments. A high-performance, radiation-tolerant detector is required for the time-of-flight laser altimeter system on the Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO), which will perform critical characterization of Europa's topography, ocean tides, and ice shelf. Avalanche photodiodes (APDs) are conventionally chosen as detectors for standard laser altimeter systems. However, the performance of APDs degrades significantly after exposure to high levels of radiation. Aerius Photonics proposes to develop a novel radiation-tolerant detector that is suitable for use in space-based laser-altimeter systems by integrating a Vertical-Cavity Semiconductor Optical Amplifier (VCSOA) with a PIN photodetector. The resulting device, known as a Vertical-Cavity Amplifying Detector (VCAD), is expected to provide high-gain, high-speed, low-noise detection and demonstrate significant improvements in radiation tolerance over APDs. The optical preamplification provided by the VCSOA, along with its operation as a forward-biased majority-carrier device, renders the VCAD system insensitive to radiation-induced increases in detector dark current noise and receiver electronics noise. The VCAD is also expected to be significantly less susceptible to single event transients (SETs) than an APD. Aerius Photonics has expertise in VCSOA development and has already demonstrated basic radiation tolerance of VCSOAs to 300 krad with gamma radiation and to 300 krad with 63 MeV protons. In Phase I of this program, Aerius will design, fabricate and characterize VCADs that have been exposed to a more comprehensive radiation test plan that will include conditions anticipated on the EJSM.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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