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Takoma Park, MD, United States

Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.98K | Year: 2009

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is focused on developing computer aided design (CAD) tools for the design of state-of-the-art Silicon Carbide (SiC) Power Double-Diffused Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect-Transistor (DMOSFET) and Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) based electric power-conversion systems for hybrid and all-electric commercial and military vehicles. These tools will aid device manufacturers and power conversion system designers, to develop high power, energy-efficient, and light-weight, power converters using SiC power devices. These devices are capable of working at extremely high temperatures and power levels that are beyond the theoretical limits of currently used Silicon power semiconductors. Use of this technical know-how and tool set for designing novel power conversion systems for automobiles will play a direct role in reducing green-house gases in the atmosphere. This project will assist the design of energy efficient, ultra-low emission, and environmentally friendly automobiles. This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.68K | Year: 2009

We are developing CAD tools, models and methodologies for electronics design for circuit operation in extreme environments with a focus on very low temperature and radiation effects. These new tools and methodologies will help enable NASA to design next generation electronics. Such capabilities will significantly improve reliability, performance and lifetime of electronics that are used for space applications, including satellites and space travel. This will be achieved through the development of novel physics-based modeling techniques and verified by experiment. The new cryogenic design tools will greatly reduce the chances of error during actual circuit implementation, and thus reduce the number of design cycles, thereby substantially decreasing fabrication times and expenses. Models and CAD tools are relatively inexpensive as compared to fabrication costs; thus the results of this project should provide a very large return on investment.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project seeks to develop a novel technique and device for high-speed uncooled room-temperature infrared (IR) imaging using micro-antennas and Metal-Insulator-Metal (MIM) rectifiers. These antenna-rectifier structures, called rectennas, will be built to convert electromagnetic waves at infrared frequencies to direct current proportional to infrared radiation intensity. This technology will pave the way for high-speed IR imaging which is currently unachievable by commonly used bolometers. This method will also achieve high-resolution IR imaging without cooling the detectors as is currently required by IR photo-detectors, Furthermore, through this SBIR, large size pixel arrays containing these rectenna elements will be designed and tested at infrared frequencies. To direct the design process, scaled prototypes on PCBs and integrated circuits that operate in the tens to hundreds of GHz range will be built. Testing and modeling of these scaled prototypes will then guide fabrication of arrays of rectennas that can operate in the THz range. Finally, readout circuits will be designed that scan the rectenna array and convert output to an IR intensity level. The scaled prototype results will be used in Phase II to implement the IR rectenna imager with readout circuitry.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will directly affect the scope of infrared (IR) imaging technology, and possibly bring it into the mainstream similar to the visible light digital cameras. IR cameras with limited cooling have obvious advantages, including the elimination of power-consuming cooling systems; a reduction in size, weight, and cost; and greater reliability (an increase in the useful life and mean time to failure). The number of applications potentially affected by near room temperature IR camera technology is widespread, including military applications such as battlefield sensors, surveillance, marine vision, firefighting devices, hand-held imagers, helmet-mounted sights, etc. This technology also has widespread civilian applications in areas such as thermography, process control, imaging interferometry, laser technology, long-wavelength optical communication, gas analyzers, and many others. An especially attractive large market will be in the automobile industry as an aid for driving at night and in limited visibility environments. Infrared cameras on satellites are being increasingly used for mapping resources on earth. A large sized rectenna based infrared focal plane array that can be fabricated using nanoimprinting would increase the spatial resolution of satellite based cameras.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.66K | Year: 2010

We are developing CAD tools, models and methodologies for electronics design for circuit operation in extreme environments with a focus on very low temperature and radiation effects. These new tools will help enable NASA to design next generation electronics especially for planetary projects including the Europa Jupiter System Mission. The new models and tools will be directly incorporated into industry standard CAD products to ensure their usability and extend their applicability to extreme environments. Such capabilities will significantly improve reliability, performance and lifetime of electronics that are used for space missions. This will be achieved through the development of novel compact and distributed device modeling capabilities for radiation-hard and extreme temperature instrument design, as well as techniques for circuit design that help to predict the vulnerability of circuits to degradation and upset from radiation. Research and development is indicating that standard bulk silicon CMOS and SOI processes operate well under these extreme conditions so that there is little need for NASA to commit to large expenditures for exotic materials. Models and CAD tools are relatively inexpensive as compared to fabrication costs; thus the results of this project should provide a very large return on investment.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 98.99K | Year: 2010

We propose to directly harvest energy from infrared (3-14microns) radiation sources using micro-antennas coupled to rectifying diodes and storage capacitors. The antenna receives infrared electromagnetic radiation and the rectifier converts it to direct current which is then stored. Large numbers of these rectennas connected in a conformal, light-weight array should be able to harvest energy sufficient to help power complete systems such as UAVs. In the Phase I effort, we will model, design and begin fabricating a single rectenna, as well as model an entire group of these rectennas integrated into an infrared focal plane array. Modeling will include solving Maxwell’s equations for micro-antenna design and simulating electron transport in tunneling diodes through numerical solution of the Schrodinger and Poisson equations. We will develop compact rectenna models for input into circuit simulators to analyze rectenna based sub-circuits and the entire energy harvester array. The developed design tools will be used to maximize energy absorption and facilitate impedance transformation to extract higher antenna voltages and thereby optimize rectification. We will also prototype scaled models of the rectenna array and fabricate experimental rectenna test structures. This will lead to more robust rectenna designs and fabrication techniques for implementation in Phase II.

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