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High Energy Physics Detectors and Instrumentation


Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Monday, December 21, 2015 5:00pm ET.


Maximum Phase I Award Amount:  $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount:  $1,000,000

Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications:  YES

Accepting SBIR FastTrack Applications:  YES

Accepting STTR Phase I Applications:  YES

Accepting STTR FastTrack Applications:  YES

High Energy Physics experiments require specialized detectors for particle and radiation detection. High-priority future experiments in the DOE Office of High Energy Physics portfolio need advances that can benefit from small business contributions. These experiments include those planned for the High Luminosity (HL) Upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider (, Neutrino Experiments including those sited deep underground (e.g.,, next generation direct searches for dark matter, and astrophysical surveys to understand cosmic acceleration, including Cosmic Microwave Background experiments.

We seek small business industrial partners to advance the state of the art and/or increase cost effectiveness of detectors needed for the above experiments. Specific technical areas are given in the subtopics below. These are areas where experimental needs have been defined and shortcomings of existing technology identified. Improvements in the sensitivity, robustness, and cost effectiveness are sought. R&D towards these ends will typically be in progress at DOE national laboratories and/or DOEfunded universities. While the subtopics offer initial guidance about specific detector areas, the scientists involved are the best source of detailed information about requirements and relevance to the experimental programs listed above. Applicants are therefore urged to make early contact with lab and university scientists in order to develop germane proposals. Clear and specific relevance to high energy physics programmatic needs is required, and supporting letters from lab and university scientists are an excellent way to show such relevance. Direct collaboration between small businesses and national labs and universities is strongly encouraged. For referral to lab and university scientists in your area of interest contact: Helmut Marsiske,

Grant applications are sought in the following subtopics:

a. Lower Cost, Higher Performance Visible/UV Photon Detection

Detectors for particle physics need to cover large areas with highly sensitive photodetectors. Experiments require combinations of the following properties:

  • Large photosensitive area, compatible with cryogenic and/or high pressure operation, and built with low-radioactivity materials for neutrino and dark matter detectors.
  • Fast response, radiation hardness, magnetic field compatibility, and high quantum efficiency for LHC and intensity frontier experiments
  • Low cost and high reliability

Technologies using modern manufacturing processes and low cost materials are of interest. These include use of semiconductor-based avalanche photodiodes (APD) and Geiger mode APD arrays, SiPM arrays, large area microchannel plate-based systems, new photocathode materials, and high volume manufacturing of large-area, ultra clean, sealed vacuum assemblies.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

b. Ultra-low Background Detectors and Materials

Experiments searching for extremely rare events such as nuclear recoils from WIMP dark matter particles or neutrinoless double beta decays require that the detector elements and the surrounding support materials exhibit extremely low levels of radioactivity. The presence of even trace amounts of radioactivity in or near a detector induces unwanted effects. New instruments and techniques are needed and may include: 1) Instruments to measure ultra-low-backgrounds of gamma, neutron and alpha particles; 2) Improvements in the ability to measure and control radon or surface contamination; 3) Development of ultra-radio-pure materials for use in detectors; and 4) Manufacturing methods and characterization of ultra-low- background materials.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

c. Picosecond Timing Particle Detectors

Charged particle detector systems with fast response, below 100ps time resolution, and low cost to cover large areas are of interest. Detectors must be capable of fine segmentation at the sub-mm level and tolerate high particle rate, of order MHz/ Detectors capable of precise time measurement for the passage of single charged particles are of interest for future collider experiments.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

d. Advanced Composite Materials

The High Luminosity LHC detectors will require ultimate performance detector mechanical support and cooling, that holds detector elements with micron precision and stability, and yet adds as close to zero mass as possible. Developments in this area could also be applicable to other high-priority programs. Of interest are: novel low-mass materials with high thermal conductivity and stiffness, very high thermal conductivity (<4 Wm/K) radiation tolerant adhesives, low mass composite materials with good electrical properties for shielding or data transmission, radiation hard low loss dielectric materials, improvements to manufacturing processes to take advantage of the new materials.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

e. Cryogenic Bolometer Array Technologies

Future Cosmic Microwave Background experiments will require arrays of order 100,000 bolometers. Several fabrication processes are needed to enable such large scale detectors, and can also be applicable to other experiments.

  • Sub-kelvin (10-70mK base) cryogenic systems suited for operation of large arrays for superconducting bolometers. New systems would have large operational cryogenic volumes, cryogen-free operation, high cooling power with multiple thermal intercepts, closed-cycle and continuous-cycle operations.
  • Mechanical systems and bearings for operation in vacuum at cryogenic temperature.
  • Wafer processing combining niobium metal and MEMS.
  • Anti-reflective coating technology that allows conformal application with excellent uniformity.
  • Production of large area lenslet arrays for IR light, using hard materials, such as sapphire, alumina, and silicon (5mm size 3D features on wafer scale).
  • Fabrication of miniature, ultra-low loss, superconducting capacitor and inductor arrays.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

f. Scintillating Materials And Wavelength Shifters

High Energy Physics utilizes scintillating materials for large calorimeters in colliding beam and intensity frontier experiments as well as the active medium in some neutrino and dark matter detectors. Development of radiation-hard scintillators and wavelength shifting materials is of particular interest to the colliding beam community. Development of better wavelength shifting materials is of interest for liquid noble gas detectors for neutrinos and dark matter. Brighter, faster radiation hardened crystals with high density are of interest for intensity frontier experiments as well as colliding beam experiments.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

g. Integral Field Spectrographs for Sky Surveys

The HEP community has identified integral field spectroscopy as an area that could dramatically leverage investments in current and future sky surveys for the study of Dark Energy. Grant applications are sought for the development of instrumentation that would increase the number of spectroscopic channels or the light collection efficiency for future instruments. Examples include, but are not limited to, novel multi-fiber positioning systems, spectrographs, optical filters and sensors.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

h. Technology for Large Cryogenic Detectors

Liquid noble gas detectors are in use and under development for dark matter and neutrino experiments and in the latter case on a very large scale - as large as 10 kton modules of liquid argon for the DUNE experiment. These large scale cryogenic detectors require significant technological advances.

Electrical feedthroughs through cryostat walls are needed for low voltage power, high speed (~1Gb/s) signals, monitoring and control signals, and High Voltage (100 - 200kV) DC bias. A typical case might require 1000 total wires penetrating the cryostat wall, with HV connections having each a dedicated feedthrough. These penetrations need to be area-efficient, minimize cold leaks, and control contamination. Feedthroughs are generally warm (i.e., the interior cable enters the cryostat in the gas rather than liquid phase) but in some instances cold feedthroughs (i.e., entry directly into the liquid) are required.

Purification materials and filtration systems (e.g., submersible low-noise pump) for efficient operation of high purity multi-kiloton cryogenic noble liquid systems are needed.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,

i. Other

In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.

Questions – Contact: Helmut Marsiske,


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  13. Bartolo, P.J., 2011, Stereolithography: Materials, Processes and Applications, Springer, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-387-92903-3. Available at 0-387-92904-0
  14. 13th Pisa Meeting on Advanced Detectors, May 24-30, 2015, La Biodola, Isola d'Elba, Italy,
  15. International Conference on Technology and Instrumentation in Particle Physics 2014 (TIPP2014), Amsterdam, June 2-6, 2014, The Netherlands,
  16. IEEE Symposium on Radiation Measurements and Applications (SORMA WEST2012). May 14-17, 2012, Oakland, CA,
  17. 13th Vienna Conference on Instrumentation, February 11-15, 2013, Vienna, Austria,
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