Bolingbrook, IL, United States

EPIR Technologies, Inc.

www.epir.com
Bolingbrook, IL, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2013

The potential threat of directed energy weapons (DEW) and other high peak power electromagnetic transient signals require radar systems to implement front door protection against high power signals. Fast ultra wideband (UWB) and high power microwave (HPM) signals are not successfully blocked by most current protection technologies. The Phase I work demonstrated a quasi-passive, solid state electro-optic terminal protection system (EOTPS) to effectively block UWB and HPM signals from the front end of radar systems. The device uses power from the incoming transient to switch the signal line to ground. Because the system as a whole requires no external power other than the transient, it can be considered a passive device. Inherent delay in the system permits the switch to become fully conductive before the transient arrives, effectively creating a system with a negative switching time. This allows the entire transient to be reflected, in contrast to other high power terminal protection techniques which allow part of the transient to reach the LNA. The Phase II proposal presents a plan to further develop the performance of the EOTPS for higher frequencies and to coordinate with two prime contractors in developing test validation procedures to integrate this technology into BMDS architectures.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2012

To satisfy the Army"s needs for the detection and identification of chemical and biological compounds and agents present in improvised explosive devices, we propose to develop a miniaturized infrared (IR) imaging spectrometer consisting of a HgCdTe-based IR focal plane array (IRFPA) coupled with a Fabry-Perot interferometer, by combining microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology with HgCdTe IR detector technologies. MEMS technology will be used to tune the sensor wavelength, allowing for multiple wavelength detection. All IRFPA pixels are tuned to specific wavelengths and a hyperspectral image cube is obtained by capturing an image at each wavelength of interest. During Phase I of the project we will perform optical, electronic and system studies and will develop pattern recognition algorithms for quantitative spectral decomposition and compound identification. We will design the interferometer cavity, study the materials for Bragg reflectors and perform finite element modeling of the mechanical displacements. We will study various beam structures, simulate the electrostatic actuation and determine the optimal actuation voltages. We will build a characterization set-up to assess the sensitivity, selectivity, false positive rates and probability of detection of the sensor. These figures of merit will be compared with those obtained in standard Fourier transform setups


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Office for Chemical and Biological Defense | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2013

Quick detection of Chemical/Biological (CB) agents in the field can provide critical reconnaissance and contamination avoidance. CB agents pose a serious threat to both civilian and military sectors, and present techniques rely on dangerous collection methods, active measurement through external infrared (IR) sources, and/or are time-consuming. EPIR proposes to provide critically needed improvements through the development of a passive standoff hyperspectral long wavelength infrared (LWIR) focal plane array (FPA) with a polarimetric capability that will exploit cold sky reflectance, and spectroscopy techniques to identify CB agents quickly, accurately, and on the move. Phase I will focus on spectral measurements of a chemical stimulant, and system modeling and design based upon the measurements. Milestones for Phase I include the measurement of the hyper-spectral datacube for a stimulant, and system specifications given in terms of the possible contaminants. Phase II will focus on prototype system design, construction and characterization. Phase III will focus on field-deployable system manufacturing and packaging.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 496.02K | Year: 2013

Improvised explosive devices (IED) present extreme hazards for US armed service personnel; however, current standoff IED detection systems are far too expensive and bulky to be widely deployed in combat arenas. To protect our soldiers from this threat, EPIR Technologies Inc. proposes to develop a low-cost, man-portable miniaturized imaging spectrometer through coupling tunable micro-opto-electro-mechanical (MOEMS)-based Fabry-Perot interferometers (FPI) with high-performance HgCdTe long-wave infrared (LWIR) focal plane arrays (FPA). EPIRs tunable FPIs allow for adjustable waveband selection, which makes the proposed system capable of adapting to new chemical agents or situational environments. In Phase I, EPIR has successfully optimized the MOEMS fabrication processes necessary for FPI fabrication and performed component and system modeling demonstrating that standoff ranges beyond 10 meters is possible. During Phase II EPIR will further optimize the fabrication of the MOEMS FPIs and demonstrate tunable electrostatic actuation on large area membranes. In parallel, we will fabricate high performance LWIR FPAs using our in-house growth and processing facilities and commercial read-out integrated circuits. The effort will continue with the design of the electronic, optic and cooler components of the hyperspectral imager. These components will be integrated with EPIRs FPIs and FPAs elements. A prototype hyperspectral imager will be demonstrated.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: We propose the development of broadband, two-color focal plane arrays (FPAs) that will allow the detection of radiation in the visible and infrared (IR) bands from the same target points with registration within the optical limit. The first band will cover the 400 nm to 4 micron wavelength range and will be based on EPIR"s double-layer planar heterostructures technology. The backside-illuminated array will have the substrate removed to allow for visible detection. The second color will cover the 4-11 micron wavelength range and will be based on an Auger-suppressed architecture. This architecture will allow for dark currents similar to the ones observed in the first color (400 nm 4 micron). The development of a broadband visible/IR FPA poses several challenges in the areas of detector design, material, device physics, fabrication process, integration and testing. The purpose of our proposed research is to address these challenges and demonstrate a high-performance camera system that incorporates an HgCdTe-based detector array. Phase I research will first focus on computational studies related to the proposed detector structure optimization. The results of the initial simulations will be used to guide the material growth process, and devices will subsequently be fabricated, characterized and delivered to the Air Force. BENEFIT: There are a wide number of applications for compact, low power detectors in areas such as spectrometry, thermometry, industrial manufacturing, and hotspot detection. Portable, handheld thermal imaging systems used for diagnostic detection are ideal candidates for lightweight, low power detectors. Moreover, large uncooled and thermoelectrically-cooled IR arrays have various uses in defense, astronomy, geology, law enforcement, remote environmental sensing, and emergency response. Improved high-performance HgCdTe detectors without cryo-cooling requirements are of great interest to the industry since many customers who may not have access to liquid nitrogen could benefit from having improved detection capability. The lightweight, low power design of the proposed detector would create a new market for the industry, which would significantly benefit from performance, uncooled detectors. Uncooled photodetectors designed for wide spectral detection can be used for high-sensitivity detection, particularly for low flux applications, and can replace, or be used in conjunction with conventional thermal detectors.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: A major limitation to the wide deployment of high sensitivity infrared detector arrays in space environment is the cooling system. Major developments of active cooling capabilities in terms of performance, capacity, reliability and cost remains a primary need. Current conventional cooling systems are bulky and introduce additional vibration, heat, and power consumption. The goal of this project is to develop the technology required for the fabrication of thermoelectric devices capable of cooling infrared arrays from 300 to 123 K. We propose the development of tall barriers nanoscale superlattices as the active elements of multi-stage thermoelectric coolers. The top stage element in contact with the infrared array will be able to remove at least 0.5 W of heat at 123 K. Recent models predict that metallic and HgCdTe-based superlattices have thermoelectric figures of merit ZT compatible with these operational needs. We will perform calculations to optimize material parameters to maximize ZT for each cooling stage. We will use our extensive experience in molecular beam epitaxy to grow the designed structures. Finally, we will develop device structures and metallization methods appropriate to perform ZT measurements, measure the ZTs of fabricated devices and compare results with theory. BENEFIT: High efficiency thermoelectric coolers possess a myriad of applications including portable cooling and precise temperature control for electronics, optics and medical systems. The temperature differences required in air conditioning are usually within the capacity of thermoelectric heat pumps, but their relatively poor coefficient of performance prohibits wide deployment. An increase of the thermoelectric figure of merit ZT above 3 is needed before thermoelectric technology can replace current refrigeration and air conditioning technologies. Thermoelectric coolers have long contributed to space missions. For example, thermoelectric devices cool HgCdTe-based infrared imaging cameras such as those on the Hubble Space Telescope. They are employed as refrigerators in various space science experiments. The same materials also hold great potential in thermionic energy conversion. The proposed project will also enable the commercialization of molecular beam epitaxy-grown HgCdTe-based materials and devices for various DOD, DOE and NASA applications. Advanced heterostructures, will significantly improve the performance of HgCdTe-based infrared detectors and therefore improve infrared imaging capabilities.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 741.88K | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: We propose the development of broadband high operating temperature two-color focal plane arrays (FPAs) that will allow simultaneous detection of radiation in the visible and infrared bands from the same target points. The first band will cover the 400 nm to 4 micron wavelength range and will be based on double layer planar heterostructures technology. The backside illuminated array will have the substrate removed to allow for visible detection. The second color will cover the 4-11 micron wavelength range and will be based on Auger suppressed architecture. This architecture allows for dark currents similar with the ones observed in the first color. During the Phase I program, we demonstrated Auger suppression for the LWIR band and diffusion limited behavior for the MWIR band. Based on the successful Phase I effort, this proposed Phase II program will transition the technology to 2D FPAs. This goal will be accomplished by optimization of the HgCdTe device geometry and architecture, grow by molecular beam epitaxy HgCdTe heterostructures suitable for broadband detection, fabricate detector arrays through a novel mosaic process, develop indium bump formation for variable height pixels and hybridize detector arrays to the read-out circuits. A packaged FPA will be delivered to Air Force. BENEFIT: Single detector and small array product line would have a range of commercial applications, such as spectrometry, thermometry, high-end industrial manufacturing, and hotspot detection. Additionally, larger arrays, due to their lower costs and light weight characteristics (TE-base), will have applications in astronomy, geophysics, geology, law enforcement, remote environmental sensing, search and rescue, and emergency response including firefighting. If multistage TE coolers are used, the product would also have applications in medical systems, commercial airlines, and ground transportation. Moreover, large uncooled and thermoelectrically-cooled IR arrays have various uses in defense, astronomy, geology, law enforcement, remote environmental sensing, and emergency response. Improved high performance HgCdTe detectors without cryo-cooling requirements is of great interest to the industry since many customers who may not have access to liquid nitrogen could benefit from having improved detection capability. The lightweight, low power design of the proposed detector would create a new market for these industries, which can significantly benefit from high performance, uncooled detectors. Uncooled photodetectors designed for wide spectral detection can be useful for high sensitivity detection, particularly for low flux applications, and can replace or be used in conjunction with conventional thermal detectors.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2015

We propose the development of a near infrared/short wavelength infrared (NIR/SWIR) sensor based on molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) designed for room-temperature operation in the 0.4 to 1.3 micron spectral range for the next generation of night vision goggles (NVGs), weapon sights, and handheld or airborne systems. The sensor will compete as a low cost and high performance alternative to NIR InGaAs-based cameras by providing reduced fabrication costs. This proposed effort will fabricate HgCdTe NIR/SWIR sensors on silicon substrates with room-temperature spectral response down to 0.4 micron wavelength after the removal of the Si substrates. The potential benefit to DARPA of the proposed program will be a low cost camera technology that can be used in NVGs required by SOCOM, the Marines and the Army. EPIRs proprietary MBE processes offer another advantage, namely they will allow for the fabrication of in situ double sided passivated structures. Such structures are needed by DRS Technologies, a major DoD manufacturer of NVGs and other infrared products. They can be used in the DRS high density vertically integrated photodiode (HDVIP) process to fabricate 640x480 format, 12 micron pitch and 1280x960 format, 6 micron pitch FPA products for many applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 429.22K | Year: 2012

The overall goal of this project is to develop a 100 degrees C temperature ALD CdTe passivation process capable of conformally passivating high aspect ratio surfaces of HgCdTe infrared detectors. The effort is comprised of first establishing the low temperature ALD process, next in fully characterizing the resulting CdTe, then implementing in-situ sample surface preparation, and finally in passivating high aspect ratio HgCdTe samples.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Special Operations Command | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

We propose the development of a near infrared/shortwave infrared (NIR/SWIR) sensor based on mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) in an n-type/barrier/n-type (nBn) architecture, designed for room-temperature operation in the 0.7 to 2.8µm NIR/SWIR spectral range. The sensor will compete as a low cost/high performance alternative to near infrared indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs)-based cameras by providing reduced fabrication costs and an extended detection wavelength range. The detectors will be composed of n-type and undoped HgCdTe material, which simplifies the manufacturing and lowers costs by eliminating the complications associated with p-type doping. This Phase I proposed effort will fabricate a prototype nBn HgCdTe NIR/SWIR sensors on silicon substrates with room-temperature spectral response from the silicon absorption band edge (~1.1µm) to 2.8µm. In Phase II, the nBn devices will be incorporated in high-resolution FPAs, and, with substrate removal, have responsivity from 0.7µm to 2.8µm. In the nBn architecture, HgCdTe has tremendous potential for advanced NIR/SWIR imaging applications that can realize an"out-of-band"capability advantage over InGaAs detectors while maintaining cost competitiveness because of the simplified processing of nBn devices as well as the low cost and large format of Si substrates.

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