Radiation Hard Mid-Wave Infrared Imagers

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-139
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-139 TITLE: Radiation Hard Mid-Wave Infrared Imagers

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics;Materials / Processes;Sensors

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop radiation hardened mid-wave infrared (MWIR) sensors for strategic applications.

DESCRIPTION: The performance requirements for MWIR image sensors used in strategic navigation applications continue to become more stringent, necessitating continued innovation for image sensor technologies. Examples of existing research for MWIR imaging sensor technology can be found in the referenced articles [Ref. 1-3]. The applications are also expanding, leading to a need for larger pixel counts and smaller pixels in MWIR imagers. Conventional MWIR sensors have large pixels making large arrays prohibitively expensive.

Commercial applications for MWIR are far reaching, with some examples being stress identification in materials, human tracking/security and automotive and machine industries. This technology would enable devices to be used at higher temperatures in a wider range of environments.

In terms of idealities, these MWIR sensors should have low-noise readout preferably with minimal cooling (e.g., High Operational Temperature (HOT) sensor), have high-density (< = 8 Ķm) pixel pitch, be radiation-hard at strategic levels, have low power consumption, and be able to be fabricated using foundry processes.

PHASE I: Perform a design and performance modeling study aimed at MWIR sensors with improved performance for strategic sensors as compared to the current state-of-the-art. Assess performance and environmental sensitivity of parameters including responsivity, speed, noise, and defective pixels. Consider all aspects of fabrication and justify the feasibility/practicality of the approach. A goal of quantum efficiency greater than 40% and operability greater than 95% of pixels is desired. Propose, in a Phase II plan, a specific device design for fabrication based upon this analysis.

PHASE II: Fabricate and characterize a small number of prototype MWIR sensors (Up to Qty: 3). Characterization using EMVA1288 standard, shall comprise various parameters including responsivity, speed, noise, and defective pixels in relevant radiation environments. The prototypes should be delivered by the end of Phase II.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Continue development to lead to production of MWIR sensors. Production level applications would be highly sought for military seeker applications, strategic needs as well as commercial applications. An image sensor that can meet the stringent performance requirements of strategic instrumentation is likely to bring value to many existing commercial applications. MWIR can be used in the commercial sector for a variety of reasons including stress identification in materials, human tracking/security, and automotive and machine industries. This technology would enable devices to be used at higher temperatures in a wider range of environments.


  1. Morath, C.; Cowan, M.; Treider, L.; Jenkins, G.; and Hubbs, J. "Proton Irradiation Effects on the Performance of III-V Based, Unipolar Barrier Infrared Detectors." IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, Vol. 62, No. 2, 2015. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7047245.
  2. Hoglund, L.; Ting, D.; Soibel, A.; Fisher, A.; Khoshakhlagh, A.; Hill, C.; Keo, S.; and Gunapala, S. "Minority carrier lifetime in mid-wavelength infrared InAs/InAsSb superlattices: Photon recycling and the role of radiative and Shockley-Read-Hall recombination mechanisms." Applied Physics Letters 105, 193510, 2014. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4902022.
  3. Soibel, A.; Rafol, B.; Khoshakhlagh, A.; Nguyen, J.; Hoglund, L.; Fisher, A.; Keo, S.; Ting, D.; and Gunapala, S. "Proton radiation effect on performance of InAs/GaSb complementary barrier infrared detector." Applied Physics Letters 107, 261102, 2015. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4938756.

KEYWORDS: mid-wave infrared sensor; seeker; navigation; image sensor; radiation-hard; imagers; MWIR


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