High-Counting Rate Photon Detectors for Long-Range Space Optical Communications

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNC07QA78P
Agency Tracking Number: 065641
Amount: $99,980.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: O1.08
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
APEAK INC.
63 Albert Rd., Newton, MA, 02466-1302
DUNS: 069212533
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Stefan Vasile
 Principal Investigator
 (617) 964-1788
 svasile@apeakinc.com
Business Contact
 Stefan Vasile
Title: President
Phone: (617) 964-1788
Email: svasile@apeakinc.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Long range, RF space communications do not meet anymore the bandwidth requirements or power constraints of future NASA missions. Optical communications offer the potential to dramatically increase the link bandwidth and decrease the emitter power. High-bandwidth, long-range optical communications require reliable high-gain, photon-counting detectors operated at moderate cooling with high detection efficiency, large aperture, sub-nanosecond temporal resolution, low intrinsic noise, and capability to handle large optical background. These requirements have not been met yet by single detector designs. We propose to develop a novel large area, photon-counting detector in infrared, operated with moderate cooling, gain greater than 10^6, detection efficiency greater than 50%, 100 MHz saturation counting rate, at least 500 MHz bandwidth, and configurable area. The approach is to develop compact, photon-counting detector arrays based on designs processed in high-volume manufacturing with validated reliability and infrared converters processed on large silicon wafers. This innovation provides a simple solution to high-bandwidth ground-space and space-space optical communications by mitigating optical aperture – additive noise requirements. In Phase I, we will investigate the integration of the infrared converter into the photon detector processing flow, and will develop the electronics to increase the detector bandwidth and its saturation-counting rate.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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