Andover, MA, United States
Andover, MA, United States

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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.99K | Year: 2010

The purpose of this project is to advance the technology of interband cascade (IC) lasers and their facet coatings and to design, build, and deliver to NASA a tunable, narrow linewidth mid-infrared laser source operating in the 3.2 ¡V 3.6 micron wavelength band. Initial work will develop improved IC laser active regions as well as ultra-low-reflectivity anti-reflection facet coatings. We will also develop an effective epi-side-down die attach process for IC lasers using a Au/Sn solder. The objective of this initial work is to achieve laser chips emitting in the appropriate wavelength region and operating in continuous wave mode at heat sink temperatures > 25„aC and with several 10s of mW of output power. The team will then use our extensive experience with external cavity laser sources to design, build, and deliver a versatile, tunable mid-infrared source to NASA using the developed IC laser gain chip. The delivered tunable laser source will be at a TRL level of 5 and will enable sensitive earth science trace gas measurements and enhance NASA¡¦s existing measurement capability by significantly improving the sensitivity and performance of trace gas sensing by virtue of a considerably improved source technology.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.90K | Year: 2011

ABSTRACT: Maxion Technologies, Inc, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook propose to develop a fundamental understanding of the principles of operation of interband cascade (IC) lasers and to use that understanding to overcome present-day limitations of IC lasers and thereby design lasers that are capable of watt-level performance in the 3V4-fYm wavelength band. Our innovation is to use a modular computational approach to assessing and improving the performance of IC lasers, integrated with experimental validation. The theoretical approach is to structure the proposed Sdesign toolbox around the COMSOL Multiphysics suite of modules that are designed to apply a modular approach to the solution of coupled ordinary and partial differential equations and that takes advantage of existing COMSOL modules previously developed by the proposers. The present Phase I proposal concentrates on three primary objectives in pursuit of the overall goal: (1) characterize Maxions best-available IC lasers using Hakki-Paoli measurements and cavity-length analysis; (2) develop a modular, COMSOL-based computer code for the design and analysis of IC laser performance; and (3) investigate the feasibility of using the modular, COMSOL-based design approach to developing a full modeling capability for analysis and design of high-performance IC lasers during Phase II. BENEFIT: The proposed program will increase the room-temperature, cw performance of IC lasers from the present power levels of tens of mW to 1 W and above. These improvements will reduce the complexity of next-generation IRCM laser transmitters now under development for existing seeker threats and will enable defeat of next-generation threats. At mid-IR wavelengths between 2.4 and 4 fYm, additional defense-related applications exist including lasers for target designators, IFF beacons, free-space communications, and IR scene simulators for sensor evaluation. Maxion Technologies, Inc. is one of only a few domestic sources of QC and IC lasers and is the only company with an exclusive license for the sale of IC lasers. In the 3 5 fYm wavelength region, we are already developing and marketing IC lasers for application to chemical sensing and industrial process control, and the performance improvements enabled by the proposed program will facilitate additional applications in these areas.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.98K | Year: 2011

Maxion will develop a monolithic, beam combined array of phase-locked, buried heterostructure (BH) quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). The laser array will be designed to emit a low divergence optical beam in a direction normal to the array surface at a wavelength centered at 4.6 microns. The monolithic laser"s cw output power will exceed 15 Watts. Each ridge waveguide in the array of will contain a second order, buried grating etched close to its optical mode along its length, which will serve to out-couple the laser radiation in a direction normal to the array. The ends of the ridges will be highly reflecting - one end will be HR coated, and the other will have a distributed Bragg reflector (DBR), so that threshold currents are kept low. BH QCL laser radiation that is transmitted through the DBR will propagate in a special planar waveguide region located between the DBRs and a parallel, HR coated end facet separated from the DBR plane by a Talbot distance. This planar waveguide region will be specially designed to efficiently phase lock the QCLs in the array by coupling their radiation through the DBR reflectors.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.99K | Year: 2010

The objective of this Phase I SBIR effort is to demonstrate high wall-plug efficiency (WPE) MWIR and LWIR Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) to enable a small, lightweight, and inexpensive battery-powered multi-spectral laser beacon for field use in identification, friend-or-foe determination, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) operations, and small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) for close air support missions. We will design, grow, fabricate and test a new QCL design optimized for high WPE based on incorporating recent performance advancements and new design methodologies. We will also provide MWIR and LWIR QCLs to the Air Force for use in field tests of prototype laser beacons. Based on real test data and the design of a battery power pulsed laser driver, we will develop a performance model for operation of a multi-spectral laser beacon as a function of pulse width, duty-cycle and temperature of operation. We will use the performance model to formulate laboratory and field tests and metrics that will account for the targeting pod and sensor sensitivities in close support and long-range sensing scenarios. BENEFIT: The successful realization of high-efficiency Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) will enable military and commercial Benefits. For example, hand-held field instruments such as MWIR/LWIR laser beacons and flashlights will be significant extensions of the state-of-the-art and enable enhanced capabilities and new synergies with MWIR/LWIR night vision technologies and enhanced covert operations capability. Commercially, high-efficiency QCLs enable numerous application such as sensitive, hand-held and portable chemical sensors for field use and long lifetime, low power footprint free-space optics modules.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.99K | Year: 2011

Maxion Technologies, Inc. (Maxion) proposes to develop and field test a Carbon Monoxide (CO)-sensor prototype for post fire cleanup and CO detection. The sensor will have the dynamic range required to detect and monitor CO from approximately 1 to 500 ppmv with a resolution to 1 ppmv. Maxion will grow, fabricate and test a Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) at a unique single-mode wavelength ideal for CO detection. Maxion will team with Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) to integrate the QCL into PSI's Wavelength Modulation Spectroscopy (WMS) platform.The WMS sensor board, previously developed for near-IR lasers, will be redesigned to accommodate QCL lasers. The QCL will be specially designed and fabricated for minimum power consumption. In Phase 1 the QCL was incorporated into the WMS platform and tested on a breadboard level. The breadboard sensor demonstrated the necessary dynamic range and easily surpassed the required minimum sensitivity. A Phase II prototype design was made based on the Phase I results for which dynamic range, sensitivity, SWaP, and operation with a high degree of reliability, minimal maintenance, and self-calibration under varying humidity and ambient pressures are primary design features. The sensor prototype will be tested in a relevant environment with controlled burns at a NASA test facility. Upon successful completion of all field tests, the TRL will be 6 at the end of Phase II.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.95K | Year: 2010

The goal of this SBIR effort is to develop an alternative technology for a new generation of high-performance type-II superlattice (SL) detectors that are suitable for MDA applications in the spectral region from 7 to 11 um and beyond and that out-perform detectors that are based on existing technology. Type-II systems offer potential advantages over MCT and conventional III-V semiconductor technologies; consequently, our focus in this effort will be to fully assess the use of type-II SL absorption regions in conjunction with recently demonstrated advanced detector architectures that are type-II-SL-based variants, in one way or another, of Maimon and Wicks’s high-operating-temperature (HOT) configuration. By varying the structure, compositions, and thicknesses of the SLs and by deliberately altering their interface structures, we will design, grow, fabricate, and test lattice-matched heterostructures whose detector properties are optimized for the wavelength bands of interest to MDA. The present Phase I proposal concentrates on three primary objectives in pursuit of the overall goal: (1) Design improved type-II detectors that incorporate blocking-layer architectures; (2) Grow and characterize a series of samples appropriate for evaluating detector material quality; (3) Grow, fabricate and test single-element prototype detectors.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.98K | Year: 2010

Maxion Technologies and Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) propose to jointly develop a compact, rugged, highly reliable, and autonomous sensor for in-situ monitoring of CO in spacecraft crew areas for fire warning. Our innovation is to combine a custom fabricated Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) with PSI's proprietary single board electronics package that incorporates both a high sensitivity optical detection technique and all system control functions, to create a laser spectrometer for CO. The advent of QCLs enables the development of a very compact and highly sensitive monitor. This technical approach will result in a sensor that has the requisite dynamic range of 1 to 500 ppmv with a precision of 1 ppmv CO, in a physically robust and compact package. The Phase I program will demonstrate the feasibility of a breadboard sensor and create a detailed conceptual design for an advanced prototype. The TRL at the beginning of Phase I is level 2 and the TRL at the end of Phase I will be level 4. The Phase II program will fabricate a prototype that can be demonstrated at a relevant simulator. The TRL at the end of Phase II will be level 6. Successful completion of Phases I and II will result in a rigorously validated prototype sensor that can monitor ambient CO with high speed and precision. The sensor architecture can be easily modified to measure other species.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.97K | Year: 2011

Maxion Technologies proposes to adopt and further develop a metrology system tailored to understanding the nature of electrically active trap states in type-II SLS IR detector materials, and demonstrate the utility of the technique as a tool for MBE material optimization. Capacitance transient spectroscopy (CTS) is a unique diagnostic technique in that it directly measures the properties of electrically active traps such as their concentration, capture and emission rates, activation energies, and it also distinguishes between majority- and minority-carrier trap types. It is spectroscopic in the sense that it can resolve the signatures from multiple traps within the same material. CTS has proven to be a powerful diagnostic tool for mature semiconductor materials such as Si, GaAs, InP, etc., but it has not been effectively utilized for type-II SLS IR detector materials. CTS has the potential to significantly improve the ability to relate device growth processes directly to the generation of defects that contribute to high dark current and limit photogenerated carrier lifetime. We will use CTS to quantify type-II SLS material quality and subsequently improve detector material quality by better understanding the nature of the defect states and their relation to MBE growth parameters and SLS interface layer treatments.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.99K | Year: 2012

Maxion Technologies proposes to develop a robust, high power, monolithic widely tunable Quantum Cascade Laser (QC) laser. We plan to implement a multi-section QC laser to create a monolithically tunable device, similar to those demonstrated in the near IR for telecommunications. This laser will be tuned through application of voltage to tuning elements incorporated directly in the QC laser without the need of external tuning optics or thermal tuning of the laser assembly as a whole. As a result, this laser will be rapidly tunable and usable in field environments due to its insensitivity to shock and vibration. The spatial mode profile of this laser will be comparable to that of a conventional fixed wavelength QCL, while the tunability will make the device flexible enough to defeat potential counter-counter measures in an IRCM application. In an explosives sensing system, the wide tuning range of the device will allow for enhanced ability to discriminate against background chemicals.


Grant
Agency: Department of Homeland Security | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.99K | Year: 2011

Maxion Technologies proposes to develop a robust, high power, monolithic, widely tunable Quantum Cascade (QC) laser for use in explosives and chemical sensing applications. We plan to implement a multi-section QC laser to create a monolithically tunable device, similar to those demonstrated in the near IR for telecommunications. This laser will be tuned through application of voltage to tuning elements incorporated directly in the QC laser without the need of external tuning optics or thermal tuning of the laser assembly as a whole. As a result, this laser will be rapidly tunable and usable in field environments due to its insensitivity to shock and vibration, while the wide tuning range of the device will allow for enhanced ability to discriminate against background chemicals. A wide range of defense, security and commercial applications are envisioned for this device, including stand-off chemical sensing, frequency agile LIDAR and process monitoring. This laser will achieve a tuning range of plus/minus 5 percent of the center wavelength, with an output power greater than 50 mW.

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