Takoma Park, MD, United States
Takoma Park, MD, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.98K | Year: 2011

The overall goal at the end of this multi-phase program is to develop an energy harvester composed of rectenna arrays that are connected in parallel that harness significant amounts of infrared electromagnetic energy. The ultimate systems will be capable of harvesting watts, kilowatts of energy using these structures fabricated in parallel on a large scale, or for smaller scale application specific powering needs. In Phase I we will fabricate enhanced micro-antenna arrays along with their rectifying diodes and prototype simple arrays of infrared rectenna pixels. We will continue to improve the design through modeling and testing. In Phase II we will finalize initial design and focus on applying large-scale manufacturing techniques such as nano-imprinting to produce the energy harvesters for military and commercial implementation. We will focus this product largely on IR of wavelengths corresponding to approximately 10microns. However, many of the techniques developed will be applicable to other parts of the spectrum.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2013

We propose to build a two-dimensional multi-pixel infrared detector based on rectenna technology. The rectennas comprise of a micro-antenna tuned to terahertz reception and an integrated Metal-Insulator-Metal diode. This system captures infrared radiation, rectifies it and converts it to a direct current for further processing. In this Phase II project, we plan to fabricate 2-D arrays of rectennas, quantify their figures of merit, test them at IR wavelengths, and integrate them with readout electronics to make a complete infrared sensor system. We will also seek to move towards more reliable and repeatable performance of the rectenna devices, and specifically aim to use advanced photolithography (DUV steppers) or nano-imprinting for the fabrication of the nano-scale MIM junctions. Large numbers of these rectennas connected in a conformal, light-weight array should be able harvest energy sufficient to help power complete systems including UAVs. Further, they will work as uncooled IR detectors with detectivity that is comparable to liquid nitrogen cooled MCD detectors.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2015

CoolCAD Electronics, LLC, is proposing the design and fabrication of silicon-carbide based active pixel sensor, comprising a very LARGE AREA SiC UV photodiode (>4mm2 in Phase I and >4cm2 in Phase II) with a monolithically-integrated readout circuit. SiC photodiodes offer advantages in sensitivity, low dark current, high temperature operation, and higher UV responsivity compared to other commercial UV detector technologies such as GaP. These sensors have applications relevant to Earth and planetary sciences and heliophysics-focused NASA missions. Our technical objectives are the fabrication of very large area SiC photodiodes, in fact larger than what is currently commercially available, and monolithically integrating them with readout circuit components to extend the manufacturability benefits of Si CMOS to the SiC UV sensor arena. As deliverables, we propose to fabricate and deliver large area photodiodes, readout circuit components such as JFETs, and an integrated large area sensor/readout active pixel. We will design the photodiode and other circuit components from the ground-up, with process and electrical performance simulations forming the bases of the structural and fabrication step design, including the development of models for use in circuit simulators. We will optimize and perform the fabrication steps, and electrically and optically characterize the fabricated components using our in-house UV test system.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.96K | Year: 2012

Silicon Carbide (SiC) electronics has the potential for revolutionizing the high temperature high power electronics industry. There is a strong need for tools and models for circuit design using the new SiC power devices that are coming to market. Our work in this project will focus on developing analytical models for the newly commercially available SiC power MOSFETs that will then be used for design of efficient power converter circuits. We will extend our strong background work on developing complex device models for SiC power MOSFETs to analytical SPICE-type models that capture the unique physics of SiC devices, while at the same time can be used to simulate the electrical and thermal performance of a complex power converter circuit. The first phase of this project will focus on detailed measurements of the SiC power devices, developing SPICE models for the DC and transient behavior, and testing of key circuits for model verification and calibration. This effort will lead in to a more comprehensive Phase II work in which we will focus on coupled electro-thermal modeling and development of a SiC power system computer aided design (CAD) tool.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.89K | Year: 2012

Silicon Carbide deep UV detectors can achieve large gains, high signal-to-noise ratios and solar-blind operation, with added benefits of smaller sizes, lower operating voltages, radiation hardness, ruggedness and scalability. SiC UV APDs implementation is challenging due to some material defects, relatively not-well modeled device operation, and very high absorption coefficients near 200nm wavelengths. The objective of this proposed work is to extend the state-of-the-art in UV sensors by: a) developing SiC deep UV detectors, and b) improving their responsivity down to near 200nm wavelengths. We plan to accomplish this goal by using the SiC UV APD design simulator developed in Phase I, and making further improvements as we introduce new design concepts to improve the responsivity utilizing novel design and fabrication techniques tof the critical n+ top contact layer on the APD to reduce charge recombination in the UV absorption layer.We will develop unique fabrication techniques to improve surface quality of the SiC APD structure. This effort will be led by Auburn University, which has developed state-of-the-art fabrication methodologies and capabilities for SiC MOSFETs, in collaboration with CoolCAD who will design the devices and the implantation process.Our main effort will focus on generating a built-in surface field by creating a steep doping profile right at the surface. Since steep dopant gradients necessary to create a field within 40nm of the surface are not feasible using epitaxial growth techniques for SiC, we will develop implantation and dopant activation sequences, and backend processing techniques to achieve this goal. By creating a field in the deep UV absorption layer (~40nm), we will reduce the initial recombination of electron-hole pairs created by the UV photons and increase current reaching the multiplication region of the APD.


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 Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | 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: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 500.00K | Year: 2013

Silicon Carbide (SiC) electronics has the potential for revolutionizing the high temperature high power electronics industry. There is a strong need for tools and models for circuit design using the new SiC power devices that are coming to market. Our work in this project will focus on developing analytical models for the newly commercially available SiC power MOSFETs that will then be used for design of efficient power converter circuits. We will extend our strong background work on developing complex device models for SiC power MOSFETs to analytical SPICE-type models that capture the unique physics of SiC devices, while at the same time can be used to simulate the electrical and thermal performance of a complex power converter circuit. The first phase of this project focused on detailed measurements of the SiC power devices, developing SPICE models for the DC and transient behavior, and testing of key circuits for model verification and calibration. The Phase II work will focus on coupled electro-thermal modeling and development of a SiC power system computer aided design (CAD) tool and prototype power converter systems for tool verification and demonstration.Abstract


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

We here propose the development and fabrication of an integrated sensor device capable of detecting across a wide band of UV radiation, from extreme UV (1 to 50 nm) through vacuum UV (50 to 175 nm) and into deep UV (175 to 350 nm). The proposed sensor will comprise a photodiode, a Schottky diode, and an amplifier circuit fabricated in the same process flow and monolithically integrated on the same die. We will use silicon carbide as the semiconductor material, which will make the proposed work the first time an integrated silicon carbide sensor device is fabricated. The nascent semiconductor material, silicon carbide, has found widespread application in power electronics. However, its advantageous properties as an optoelectronic detector device in the UV range (transparency to visible light and very low dark current, both results of its very wide bandgap) have not been utilized widely. With the proposed work, we therefore aim to advance the state-of-the-art in silicon carbide technology. To realize the goals of the program, which are designing and fabricating a SiC VUV detector, a SiC DUV/EUV detector, a single SiC nMOSFET, an amplifier comprised of SiC nMOSFETs, and an integrated single chip photodetector and amplifier from these individual components, we propose a work plan including process development and optimization for SiC Schottky diodes (as the VUV detector) and SiC nMOSFETs, and process optimization for SiC photodiodes (the EUV/DUV detector). We will simultaneously develop and optimize the process to fabricate all these components on the same die with the required connections to obtain a monolithic SiC detector/amplifier circuit and thereby obtain a SiC sensor-on-a-chip.


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

The ultimate goal of this proposal is to provide NASA space SEE and TID tolerant high voltage and low on-resistance silicon carbide power devices that meet the capability performance goals in the NASA technology roadmap. These objectives are important for the upcoming missions such as Io Observer, Saturn probe and Europa. Additionally, improving the single event / radiation hardness of silicon carbide devices would benefit the Orion spacecraft project in terms of power and advanced space power systems in terms of mass. Specifically mass savings are tremendous with the use of radiation hardened high voltage and power devices: A possible use of 300 V solar arrays instead of the 120 V option for solar electric propulsion would decrease the payload by as much as 2.5 tons with larger voltage operation resulting in further weight cuts. This is only practically achievable using radiation hardened silicon carbide devices as the silicon on-resistance versus radiation hardening penalty renders the silicon option not beneficial for conversion efficiencies. To achieve space SEE and TID tolerant silicon carbide power devices, we will follow two parallel paths. First, we are partnering with Cree (Wolfspeed) to determine heavy ion and TID susceptibility of their Gen2 1200 V power MOSFETs. We will also devise experiments to understand and identify failure mechanisms leading to the measured behavior. In Phase I, we will pursue these experiments, and start device modeling these Gen2 devices. In Phase II, we will build on this foundation to come up with possible rad-hard designs that will be newly fabricated and tested. Second, CoolCAD also plans to design, lay out and fabricate JFET based silicon carbide high voltage / power devices. This provides an alternative to Cree's MOS based power device. In Phase I, we will fabricate a prototype JFET power device, and plan to also heavy ion test this device to determine its vulnerability to heavy ions and TID.

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