Release Date
August 23rd, 2023
Open Date
September 20th, 2023
Due Date(s)
October 18th, 2023
Close Date
October 18th, 2023
Topic No.


Solar Blind UV Detector for Space Object Detection


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2023


The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking proposals for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program focused on the topic of "Solar Blind UV Detector for Space Object Detection". The research aims to develop novel systems to expedite the detection of unknown objects in space. The objective is to develop a high sensitivity wide bandgap based solar blind detector with a UV/V rejection ratio of >105. The technology will be used to equip defense aircrafts and satellites with self-protection sensor systems, specifically warning sensors operating in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum. The detection range of these sensors is limited, but their false-alarm rate is low. Phase I involves research and development of concepts, while Phase II focuses on building prototype systems and evaluating their performance. Phase III involves applying the knowledge gained to build an advanced sensor suitable for mission application. The project duration and funding specifics are not provided in the document. Foreign nationals are restricted from participating in all phases, and Phase II work is expected to be classified.



OBJECTIVE: Develop novel systems to expedite detection of unknown objects.

DESCRIPTION: New methods are needed to exploit the increased availability of space imagery, to predict and to track questionable technology movement robustly over tactical time scales, and help to understand future direction for space-based technologies. To address the threat of questionable technologies, modern defense aircrafts or even satellites need to be equipped with a suite of self-protection sensor systems, which includes warning sensors operating in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum, especially the Ultraviolet-C (UVC) region spanning from 200 – 280 nm wavelength because the UVC is completely absorbed by the atmospheric ozone layer. A source of UVC in the atmosphere below the ozone layer is the plumes, which can be detected with solar blind UVC sensors. The detection range of these sensors is limited, on the order of several km, against comparable technologies, but their false-alarm rate is low. The use of infrared (IR) sensors, which can offer much longer detection range, is limited, and requires more complex image processing methodologies. The low false-alarm rate of the UV sensors is due to absence of background radiation and the absence of sources of UV radiation, especially in the UVC region.

For this topic, foreign nationals shall be restricted from participating in all phases. Phase I work shall be conducted on NIST SP 800-171 compliant information systems. Phase II work is expected to be classified.

PHASE I: Research, develop, and demonstrate concepts for high sensitivity (>100 mA/W) wide bandgap based solar blind detector with a UV/V rejection ratio of >105.

PHASE II: Build prototype systems with various form factors. Deliver a minimum of two of these prototypes to the sponsor for evaluation. Perform detailed analysis to ensure materials are rugged and appropriate for sponsor’s application. Perform analysis to understand environmental, shock, and vibration effects on system. Evaluate prototype against provided performance goals.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Apply the knowledge gained in Phase II to build an advanced sensor, suitably configured for mission application, including flight spares and interface electronics, and characterize its performance in the UV & V range requirements. Market research and analysis shall identify the most promising technology areas and the company shall develop manufacturing plans to facilitate a smooth transition.

REFERENCES: 3. Monroy, E.; Omnes, F.; Calle, F. Wide-bandgap semiconductor ̀ ultraviolet photodetectors. Semicond. Sci. Technol. 2003, 18, R33; 4. Omnes, F.; Monroy, E.; Mun ̀ ̃oz, E.; Reverchon, J. Wide bandgap UV photodetectors: A short review of devices and applications. Proc. SPIE Gallium Nitride Mater. Devices II 2007, 64730E, 111−125; 5. Shi, L.; Nihtianov, S. Comparative study of silicon-based ultraviolet photodetectors. IEEE Sens. J. 2012, 12, 2453−2459; 6. Narayanan, D. L.; Saladi, R. N.; Fox, J. L. Ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer. Int. J. Dermatol. 2010, 49, 978−986.

KEYWORDS: Space-based sensing; Space object detection; Tracking