Ardmore, OK, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Commerce | Branch: National Institute of Standards and Technology | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2015

methyst Research Inc. will design, fabricate and test a high uniformity, large area, low noise infrared trap-detector detector for the 1- 4.5 μm wavelength range. This state of the art detector will have a large area (e.g., 1-1.8 cm diameter active area) with a spatial variability of internal quantum efficiency of less than 0.1 % between 1 μm and 4.5 μm. In addition, the internal quantum efficiency of the detectors (i.e., the device efficiency after taking into account the radiation loss due to front-surface reflection) will be close to unity. The Phase I effort will consist of a proof-of-principle demonstration of large area, high-uniformity photodiodes that operate at 1 to 3 μm wavelengths.


Grant
Agency: Department of Commerce | Branch: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 94.99K | Year: 2015

Methane, is the third most prevalent greenhouse gas whose atmosphere concentration is currently over 1.7 ppm. Methane is about 21 times more potent when compared to CO2. Even though its concentration in the atmosphere is more than 200 times lower than carbon dioxide, methane is responsible for 20% of the greenhouse effect. The main natural resources for methane include wetlands, termites and the oceans. Natural sources create 36% of methane emissions. The main anthropogenic sources come from landfills, livestock farming, and in the production, transportation and use of fossil fuels accounting for 64% of the total. While the quantitative monitoring of methane levels is necessary, it is also critically important to directly identify the sources of methane, for example, such as leaks in pipelines, and also from drilling/fracking and other human activities. In this NOAA SBIR program, Amethyst Research proposes to develop a relatively inexpensive methane gas imaging camera that can be used for direct observation of methane gas/emissions. This camera will be high sensitivity, low power, low cost and light so it can be integrated onto UAV’s platforms and hand held systems.


Grant
Agency: Department of Commerce | Branch: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 94.99K | Year: 2015

Methane, is the third most prevalent greenhouse gas whose atmosphere concentration is currently over 1.7 ppm. Methane is about 21 times more potent when compared to CO2. Even though its concentration in the atmosphere is more than 200 times lower than carbon dioxide, methane is responsible for 20% of the greenhouse effect. The main natural resources for methane include wetlands, termites and the oceans. Natural sources create 36% of methane emissions. The main anthropogenic sources come from landfills, livestock farming, and in the production, transportation and use of fossil fuels accounting for 64% of the total. While the quantitative monitoring of methane levels is necessary, it is also critically important to directly identify the sources of methane, for example, such as leaks in pipelines, and also from drilling/fracking and other human activities. In this NOAA SBIR program, Amethyst Research proposes to develop a relatively inexpensive methane gas imaging camera that can be used for direct observation of methane gas/emissions. This camera will be high sensitivity, low power, low cost and light so it can be integrated onto UAV’s platforms and hand held systems.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.86K | Year: 2016

Next generation advances in subsurface technologies will enable access to large amounts of clean, renewable geothermal energy, as well as safer development of domestic natural gas supplies. The subsurface also provides hundreds of years of safe storage capacity for carbon dioxide (CO2) and opportunities for environmentally responsible management and disposal of hazardous materials and other energy waste streams. Subsurface storage requires mastery of a number of critical technologies including safely and cost efficiently accessing the subsurface, maintaining optimal conditions for storage over time, and monitoring the subsurface. In this program, Amethyst Research proposes to develop and deliver a rugged, compact, low power, low cost, ultra high sensitivity subsurface CO2 measurement system that can differentiate between 13CO2 and 12CO2 isotopologues. The CO2 monitoring sensor will be small and low cost so multiple sensors can be placed throughout the subsurface area to be monitored. The individual CO2 sensors will be based on a novel infrared resonant cavity detector that can be tuned to detect only selected wavelengths. A simple LED based infrared light source can then be used with detector to measure the CO2 with high accuracy and sensitivity. The detectors can be tuned to independently detect the CO2 isotopologues. This information can then be sent to a base station for concentration analysis and recording. In the Phase I program Amethyst Research will develop and optimize the resonant cavity infrared detector optimized to detect light in and around 4.35 m where the 12CO2 and 13CO2 absorption bands are strong and well separated. The Phase I program will also design the entire CO2 sensing system. Amethyst Research is developing an ultra sensitive gas detection system that will be able to accurately and rapidly monitor subsurface green house gases such as CO2 and determine whether these gases are natural and/or anthropogenic in origin. Commercial Application and Other Benefits: Amethyst is developing a low noise high sensitivity mid infrared resonant cavity detector for use in CO2 monitoring. This technology can be translated to other applications including monitoring of other gases as well as IR imagining and IR tomography.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 225.00K | Year: 2016

Significant improvements in the technology to monitor greenhouse gases are required. In particular there is need to be able to simultaneously monitor both small (~m) and large area sites (~ 100km) and in rugged/inaccessible terrain. For example, sensitive, accurate, and real-time monitoring of hydrobiogeochemical processes are needed in subsurface environments, including soils, the rhizosphere, sediments, the vadose-zone and ground waters. In these challenging environments, highly selective, sensitive, in-situ greenhouse gas imaging devices are ideally needed for low-cost field deployment in remote locations. In this SBIR program Amethyst Research along with their partner InView, and in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory propose to develop an infrared greenhouse gas imaging camera that can directly image and quantify the gases of relevance to hydrologic and biogeochemical studies such as CH4, CO2 and N2O. More advanced designs of this camera could image and quantify multiple gases and their isotopologues simultaneously. In Phase I of this Program Amethyst will design, fabricate and test a resonant cavity enhanced photodetector optimized for operation around 3.3 microns, the wavelength of methane absorption. Amethyst will work with Dr. James Stegen of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to establish base line sensitivity requirements for the imaging system. Amethyst will also partner with InView to lay out integration plans of the ultra sensitive resonant cavity infrared detector into InView’s camera system in Phase II. Amethyst Research, in collaboration with InView, and Pacific Northeastern National Laboratory is developing an infrared imaging system in order to detect and quantify greenhouse gas emissions in order to better understand their life cycle and role in global warming. Commercial Application and Other Benefits: Outside of hydrobiogeochemical research, systems of this type could be used for sequestration monitoring and surveying of oil production fields to identify and fix methane leaks. Other applications include, Spectroscopy, Gas Detection, Chemical Analysis, and Medical monitoring of exhaled gases


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2016

Miniaturized gas sensors with high sensitivity that are compact, low power and low weight are needed to support for NASA's airborne science missions, particularly those utilizing the Global Hawk, SIERRA-class, Dragon Eye or other unmanned aircraft. These UAV gas sensors are intended as calibration/validation systems for space-based measurements and/or to provide local measurements not available from space-based instruments. In this SBIR program, Amethyst Research will develop a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) gas sensor that is capable of measuring multiple gases with absorption in the Mid to far infrared spectra with high accuracy. The envisioned system will be compact, light weight and operate at low power with detection discrimination in the ppb range. The system?s performance is made possible by Amethyst?s recently developed high sensitivity narrow band infrared detector that can be tuned to detect only light in the absorption band of the individual gas. This unique detector enables a low cost / low power infrared source to be used to measure individual gas concentrations at high accuracy by measurement of the absorption of the gas's unique absorption band in this spectral region. Multiple detectors, each tuned to detect a certain gas, can be packaged together to construct a multi-gas sensor.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2014

This program will develop an ultra-high performance infrared detector manufacturing technology with improved performance and cost effectiveness, and reduced cooling requirements when compared to the best commercially available HgCdTe and InGaAs detectors. This will be accomplished using a two-pronged approach addressing both device design and materials. First, the conventional pn photodiode device is replaced with a new device structure, the nBn detector, which inherently suppresses performance-limiting dark currents, such as those produced by surface leakage. Second, highly manufacturable III-V materials are used, which are further enhanced with Amethyst's proprietary UV hydrogenation defect mitigation process. The result is a low cost, high performance detectors operating in the 2 – 5 micron wavelength region. There is a pressing need for ultra-high sensitivity detectors operating in this region for the detection of trace gases and chemicals. In Phase I Amethyst produced a 2.8 micron cutoff detector. The program met all objectives, demonstrating considerable improvements in performance over conventional pn diodes using the nBn and hydrogenation approach. In Phase II, Amethyst will design, fabricate and test high performance detectors individually optimized with cutoff wavelengths throughout 2–5 micron wavelength range. These detectors will have improved detectivity, and significantly reduced cooling requirements compared to currently available commercial detectors. In addition, Amethyst will deliver a thermoelectrically cooled 3.3 micron wavelength cutoff detector to JPL's Microdevices Laboratory for comparative testing and to assist in development of methane detector systems. The overall objective of the Phase II is to establish performance metrics, manufacturing process, characterize and life test single element devices. These efforts will help establish a US based manufacturing source of these ultra-high performance detectors.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 224.85K | Year: 2015

Statement of the Problem Isotopologues are a critical tool in monitoring plant hydrobiogeochemical and microbial systems and processes. The most abundant elements utilized and exchanged by plants, microbes and ecosystems are carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N), all of which have naturally occurring stable isotope forms that can be used as natural tracers for understanding and interrogating these systems. However, current technologies for real time in situ monitoring of isotopologues are expensive, require power sources, and have limited spatial capacity. Statement of How this Problem is Being Addressed In this program Amethyst Research in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and the Climate Change Science Institute, Oak ridge National Laboratory will develop a multi-spectral soil gas sensor that can accuracy and rapidly measure the concentration and isotopic ratio of N2O, CO2, CH4 gases and their isotopologues as well as water vapor. A novel infrared resonant cavity photo-detector, that does not require expensive and/or power hungry laser sources (currently employed in existing isotopologue spectroscopy systems) will be demonstrated in Phase I and an inexpensive, portable system will be field tested and developed in Phase II. The high performance detectors will employ two advanced detector concepts, unipolar barrier device architectures coupled to resonant cavities. Unipolar barrier detectors developed by Amethyst have demonstrated a million fold suppression of dark current, thereby dramatically decreasing detector noise. The combination of both detector advances will be developed for the first time in this program and integrated with proven subsurface monitoring system and plant and environmental researchers to ensure relevancy. What is to be done in Phase I Amethyst Research will develop and optimize a high sensitivity resonant cavity infrared photo-detector that will be used to measure isotopologue distributions. In Phase I, detectors for N2O, CO2 and CH4 will be designed, and a functioning CH4 detector will be fabricated and performance evaluated. The system will be tested at the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology field facilities and will proceed in collaboration with the Climate Change Science Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory where additional testing and validation will be performed. Commercial Application and Other Benefits Development of this robust field portable soil gas sensor system will have a significant impact on measuring biological activity in soils and monitoring greenhouse active gases and processes. The system will reliably measure sub-ppm concentrations of gas phase greenhouse gases and their isotopes and will be field portable. End users will find this system attractive due to overall dependability, accuracy, field robustness and low operational cost. Key Words: Isotope monitoring, Resonant Cavity Photo-Detector, Gas Sensors, Subsurface Instrumentation Summary for Members of Congress: Amethyst Research in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, and in collaboration with the Climate Change Science Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is developing a real time, in-situ gas detection system that is able to monitor hydrobiogeochemical processes in subsurface environments for plant and environmental monitoring processes.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

The production of oil and gas from shale reservoirs has revolutionized the petroleum industry in the United States. The success of the shale plays is the result of technological advancement much of which credit belongs to the improved understanding of the complexities of shale and the variables that affect their productivity. Over the past decade, advances in shale characterization and stimulation technology have opened hydrocarbon-bearing shale to exploitation. The incredible success of the gas exploration has increased supply and driven natural gas prices lower, resulting in the push to find the more valuable petroleum liquids. The success of all of the plays depends on the proper characterization of the shale reservoir. To determine if the favorable parameters are present, it is currently necessary to conduct a number of different analyses that are time consuming and expensive. In this program we propose to develop a powerful suite of new analytical techniques derived from ion beam capabilities. The intention is to contribute to the nations oil and gas exploration sector by offering new and unique analytical toolset. Ion beam analysis will provide enhanced geochemical and mineralogical data sets for extracting oil and natural gas from shale plays. This will include particle induced X-ray emission PIXE) for element analysis. The presence of mineralogical elements like Si, Ca, U, V, Mo and Th contribute to the brittleness of the shale rock and influence the harvesting process. Elastic recoil detection analysis ERDA) will be used to determine the amount of hydrogen present, and nuclear reaction analysis NRA) to determine the amount of carbon. With this proposal, analytical methods are examined that could streamline elemental analysis of shale and provide estimates of mineralogical components that control brittleness, organic matter content, and maturity. This analysis would provide data that would allow more environmentally friendly and economical decisions to be made in extracting oil and natural gas from shale plays.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2015

Low cost and accurate monitoring of sequestered gases such as CO2 is critical to insure that these gases are not reentering the atmosphere. Management requires, in part, improved atmospheric and ground monitoring of these greenhouse gases through sensors capable of measuring the subsurface flux, concentration and the carbon isotopologues of CO2 with high accuracy. These Monitoring, Verification and Accounting (MVA) tools needs to meet very strict requirements including; (a) the ability to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic CO2; (b) sensitive to the location of injected CO2 and any potential release; (c) robust enough for operating in harsh environments; and (d) capable of monitoring requirements across the range of storage formation(s), depth)s), temperature(s), pressure(s) and porocities. The ability to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic CO2 emissions requires detectors that can differentiate CO2 isotopologues. In this program an ultra-sensitive infrared CO2 sensor system, designed to optimally operate at 4.35 m, where both CO2 isotopologues are optically active will be constructed for MVA monitoring. The sensor will be able to accuracy and rapidly measure the concentration and isotopic ratio of CO2 isotopologues, and thus determine the gas origin. The ultra-high performance infrared CO2 sensor will be deployed and field tested at the University of Montanas Zero Emission Research Technology (ZERT) subsurface CO2 field site. In Phase I an infrared detector optimized for detection at 4.35 microns, which is ideal to detect and measure CO2 isotopologue amounts and ratios, was designed, fabricated, and tested. A methodology for incorporating this into a proven CO2 gas monitoring system at Montana State ZERT facility was also developed. The detector constructed in Phase I will be incorporated into the ZERT gas monitoring system for MVA to monitor sequestered CO2. This will upgrade the system capabilities significantly, and will be capable of discriminating between natural and anthropogenic CO2. After construction, this system will then be optimized and laboratory developed to assure optimum performance and field tested. Commercial Application and Other Benefits A low noise high sensitivity mid infrared detector for use in CO2 monitoring has been developed. This detector is being incorporated into a carbon sequestration monitor that can differentiate between naturally occurring and anthropogenic CO2 in Phase II. This technology can be translated to other applications including monitoring of other greenhouse gasses that have absorption bands in the infrared. This system could also be used to monitor other dangerous gases that have an infrared absorption signature.

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