SBIR Phase I: Integrated Millimeter-Wave Electronic Photonic System on a CHIP (EPSOC)

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
DGNSS Solutions, LLC
1275 Kinnear Road, Columnus, OH, 43065-8874
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
George Dedes
(614) 937-1993
Business Contact:
George Dedes
(614) 937-1993
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an Electronic-Photonic System on Chip (EPSOC) for millimeter wave imaging. Millimeter-wave (mmW) imaging is an enabling technology for imaging and detection in degraded visual environments. However, the energy emitted in the mmW spectrum is approximately eight orders of magnitude lower than the energy emitted in the infrared spectrum. Consequently, passive mmW imaging is only viable with mmW receivers with very high sensitivity and inter-channel stability. Our proposed approach overcomes the limitations of traditional mmW receivers by using photonic technologies to up-convert the mmW radiation to optical frequencies, enabling a dramatic increase in sensitivity. The proposed system is integrated on a 3D hybrid electronic-photonic chip and maintains the phase information from the received mmW signals, thereby eliminating the need to integrate mechanical scanners, which reduces the overall system size and weight. Furthermore, our EPSOC leverages advances in the scaling of silicon technologies to provide high performance (fT and fmax frequency up to 300 and 400 GHz), integration density, and favorable economies of scale. Consequently, the proposed EPSOC is compact (2mmx2mm) and provides 5X better performance (0.1K-0.2K temperature sensitivity at a 33Hz rate) compared to existing mmW imagers on the market today. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the development of a low-cost Silicon Electronic Photonic Network on Chip (EPSOC) for millimeter wave imaging. Traditional mmW imagers are based on high gain III-V amplifiers that are noisy and difficult to integrate densely into focal plane array systems. These systems do not maintain phase information, which necessitates the use of scanners, making them bulky and slow with high power requirements. In contrast, our hybrid silicon electronic-photonic approach ensures dense integration, and uses photonic phase shifters, which will eliminate the need to integrate mechanical scanners. The EPSOC will have an impact on a broad range of application areas that require mmW sensitivity including astronomy, aerial reconnaissance, stand-off threat detection, portal screening, persistent surveillance, situational awareness, and video imaging navigation in the absence of GPS signals. Furthermore, it will be particularly useful for applications that require high resolution imaging through smoke, fog, sandstorms, clouds and dielectric materials including plastic and clothing. Lastly, this project will demonstrate the feasibility of 3D electronic-photonic systems on chip with high sensitivity, stability and integration density. This would have applications to other areas as well, such as, RF communications and signal processing.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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