Advanced Piezoelectric Materials in Maritime Surveillance Systems

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-042
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-042 TITLE: Advanced Piezoelectric Materials in Maritime Surveillance Systems



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 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: Integrate recent advances of piezoelectric materials with increased sensitivity and investigate innovative new sensor designs for robust deep water passive sensors.

DESCRIPTION: The current passive acoustic sensors used in Maritime Surveillance arrays are based on conventional piezoelectric materials. The current sensors employed in arrays include omni-directional hydrophones and multi-axis vector sensors. These are strung together similar to towed arrays used by the submarine fleet but are slightly larger in size. The Navy wants to enhance the current sensors with the latest developments of advanced piezoelectric materials and investigate innovative sensor designs enabled by these new piezoelectric materials, to provide enhanced sensitivity and lower noise floor in an equivalent, or smaller, size package. Any new sensor designs must maintain resiliency to extreme hydrostatic pressures (full ocean depth is an objective) and low deep ocean temperatures (nominally 3° C), across a range of frequencies; robustness to deployment shock (lightweight equivalent within MIL-S-901) and accelerations (on the order of 100g as would be experienced during deployment, and the transportation vibration requirements as per MIL-STD-167); and robustness to temperature shock from 100°F to 0°F. An end-to-end solution utilizing innovative packaging methodologies to reduce overall sensor form factor to facilitate array deployment in conjunction with the advanced sensors is a significant part of this SBIR research and development effort. The enhancement in sensitivity (> 8 dB re VRMS/µPa) and reduction in low frequency noise floor (> 5 dB re µPa/vHz) are primary components of this effort. These benefits will enable greater detection ranges and greater areas of sensing coverage, which can reduce operating hours on deployment handling equipment and provide a timely modernization of fixed sensor systems used within the U.S. Navy. The ultimate design will be measured against the existing family of acoustic sensors utilized across the Maritime Surveillance portfolio. The measurements will include acoustic calibration at a certified Navy test facility; the environmental robustness would be evaluated at a qualified test facility with the ability to evaluate against the requirements mentioned above: temperature, shock, and vibration.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA), formerly the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Provide a concept and demonstrate its feasibility to achieve the Navy’s goals. The primary objective is to develop a concept for a passive acoustic sensor that meets the requirements outlined in the description. The design will include details of the acoustic sensing mechanism and associated pre-amplifier network (if required). The feasibility of the design will be established through modeling and simulation. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the specifications, and anticipated (i.e., modeled) performance characteristics to build the prototype in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype system(s) for testing and evaluation based on the results of Phase I. The evaluation and testing of the prototypes will be based on the requirements stated in the maritime surveillance performance specification, which includes contractor’s low-level subassembly performance tests. This maritime surveillance performance specification will be provided to Phase II awardee. Evaluations and testing will include acoustic evaluation, both under ambient conditions and under hydrostatic and temperature stresses. As such, a total of 10 prototypes will be provided as deliverables. Initial testing will be the responsibility of the executing company, while follow-on testing will be the responsibility of the Navy, with the company’s assistance.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use. Provide engineering support for full environmental testing, which could include low temperature thermal dwell testing, lightweight shock testing, vibration analysis, and additional acoustic evaluation testing. There is potential for some of this testing to occur in Phase II. During Phase III, a minimum of ten prototypes is anticipated to be utilized in at-sea demonstrations to assist in the full circle environmental evaluation of the design.

Some alternative Naval applications include sonobuoys, and alternative acoustic sensors residing on manned and unmanned platforms. Some commercial applications include marine mammal acoustic detection arrays and geological exploration receive arrays. This support is expected to be in the form of follow-on prototypes incorporating any lessons learned from the Phase II acoustic testing.


  1. Burdic, William S. Underwater Acoustic System Analysis. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991;
  2. Poterala, Stephen F., et al. "Processing, texture quality, and piezoelectric properties of < 001 >C textured (1-x)Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)TiO3 - xPbTiO3 ceramics." Journal of Applied Physics 110, 014105 (2011);
  3. Messing, Gary L., et al. "Texture-engineered ceramics – Property enhancements through crystallographic tailoring." Journal of Materials Research, Volume 32, Issue 17;
  4. MIL-S-901(NAVY), 17 March 1989. Military Specification: Shock Tests, H.I. (High Impact) Shipboard Machinery, Equipment, and Systems, Requirements for. Available:
  5. MIL-STD-167-1 (SHIPS), 1 MAY 1974. Department of Defense Test Method: Mechanical Vibrations of Shipboard Equipment (Type 1 – Environmental and Type II – Internally Excited). Available:

KEYWORDS: Piezoelectric sensors; Maritime Surveillance; Deep-water sensing; Bottom-mounted sensors; Sensor arrays; Deployed sensors


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 1, 2021, which opens to receive proposals on January 12, 2022, and closes February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est).

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