DOD SBIR 24.2 Annual

Active
No
Status
Open
Release Date
April 17th, 2024
Open Date
May 15th, 2024
Due Date(s)
June 12th, 2024
Close Date
June 12th, 2024
Topic No.
N242-103

Topic

Radiation-Hardened Quartz Oscillators

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the development of radiation-hardened quartz oscillators. These oscillators are crucial for integrating system sensor data and calculating position with high accuracy in strategic applications. The goal is to create quartz oscillators with radiation hardness that exceeds the capabilities of commercially-available space-qualified oscillators. The research will involve developing new electronics designs and using higher purity quartz. The project will be conducted in two phases, with Phase I focusing on understanding radiation environments and production methods, and Phase II involving the growth and processing of high-purity quartz and the delivery of prototypes for evaluation. The work under this effort may become classified in Phase II. The potential impacts of this technology extend beyond military applications, as it can also benefit commercial and scientific systems operating in harsh environments, such as communication and navigation satellites. The development of radiation-hardened quartz oscillators can improve reliability, reduce system costs, and enhance the lifetime of timing components. The solicitation is open until June 12, 2024, and more information can be found on the grants.gov website.

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Microelectronics; Nuclear; Space Technology

 

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: Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) seeks to develop a radiation-hardened ultra-stable quartz oscillator.

 

DESCRIPTION: Ultra-stable, radiation-hardened (rad-hard) reference clocks have provided a stable and reliable clock signal for integrating system sensor data and calculating position with high accuracy. Quartz crystal oscillators have been shown to offer exceptional stability performance. Commercially-available, space-qualified quartz crystal oscillators demonstrate short-term fractional frequency drifts as low as 1E-12 at 1 second and sub-ppb drifts over short times. Additionally, they have been shown to be tolerant of radiation levels encountered in space applications, demonstrating sub-ppm fractional frequency shifts for 100 kRad total ionizing doses (TID).

 

The purpose of this SBIR topic is to develop quartz oscillators with radiation hardness sufficient for strategic applications. The strategic environment is harsher than the space environment, so designs must have decreased sensitivity to radiation effects. This will require higher purity quartz and new electronics designs specific to the target applications.

 

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 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq., National Industrial Security Program Executive agent and Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain at least a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances. This will allow contractor personnel to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and SSP 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 during the advanced phases of this contract IAW the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which can be found at Title 32, Part 2004.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

 

PHASE I: Conduct an initial study to understand radiation environments, the impact of this environment on quartz crystal oscillators, and production methods that mitigate this impact [Refs 1,2]. Production considerations include, but are not limited to, high-purity crystal growth, crystal purification by sweeping, crystal cut, overtone selection, pre-aging irradiation, and plating. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

 

PHASE II: Grow and/or acquire high-purity quartz. Process the quartz and the oscillator. Deliver five (5) prototypes based on the design developed in Phase I. Evaluate oscillator performance against specifications defined in Phase I. The testing will include, but is not limited to, frequency instability, drift, and aging. Radiation testing and evaluation will be performed by a third party arranged by SSP. The prototypes shall be delivered by the end of Phase II.

 

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: Many military, commercial, and scientific systems that operate in harsh environments depend critically on timing stability. Space radiation effects impact systems such as communication and navigation satellites. Systems operating in adverse environments in and around nuclear reactors and particle accelerators also require a degree of radiation hardness. Improving radiation hardness of crystal oscillators for strategic applications will also benefit these non-military applications through improved reliability and lifetime of timing components and may reduce size, weight, and power (SWaP) and system costs through relaxation of radiation shielding requirements. Package the rad-hard quartz crystal oscillator to meet additional requirements for environmental tolerance, including insensitivity to temperature changes and mechanical stresses.

 

REFERENCES:

Snowden, D.P., et al. “Study of Radiation-Hardened Quartz Production Processes.” Internal report, IRT Corporation in support of RADCDNA Program, Defense Technical Information Center Accession Number ADA048264, 1977. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/tr/ADA048264
Bahadur, H. and Parshad, R. “Some New Results on Irradiation Characteristics of Synthetic Quartz Crystals and their Application to Radiation Hardening.” NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center Proc. Of the 14th Ann. Precise Time and Time Interval Appl. Planning Meeting. 1983. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19830027108

 

KEYWORDS: Quartz oscillator; crystal oscillator; radiation-hardening; red-hard; ultra-pure quartz; synthetic quartz; swept quartz

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