Research Summaries

Back Development of a Terahertz Imaging Camera for On-Orbit Demonstration

Fiscal Year 2021
Division Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Science
Department Physics
Investigator(s) Karunasiri, Gamani
Alves, Fabio D.
Grbovic, Dragoslav
Sponsor Department of Defense Space (DoD)
Summary The detection of colder objects in space requires the use of sensors operating at longer wavelengths than infrared (IR). Terahertz technology (THz) has not been utilized in reconnaissance due to the lack of sensitive sensors. Under DoD-SP funded research, the Sensor Research Laboratory (SRL) in partnership with the Space Systems Academic Group (SSAG), both at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) are developing and integrating low cost THz sensors to a 1U payload for CubeSats. MEMS THz-to-IR focal plane arrays (FPA) were explored and preliminary results show great potential for THz imagers. However, in order to migrate from laboratory test-beds to CubeSat platforms, the sensors must be converted to a small form factor camera capable of imaging broadband THz waves. In this context, the objective of this project is to develop a small form factor THz imaging camera (TIC), including the THz focal plane array, optics and packaging, to be integrated by the NPS SSAG into the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Grisson 6U bus for the STP-S28 mission, which has an initial launch capability (ILC) of early CY2021.
The technical approach is to build-on previous know-how to proof the functionality of the THz-to-IR conversion for broad-band detection. THz FPAs will be optimized for real time imaging within from 0.3 to 10 THz and integrated with an off-the-shelf long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera. The front-end THz focalization optics as well as the backside infrared optics will be developed. For space applications, this technology will provide low power consumption, lightweight, low cost, and extremely simple operation when contrasted with the current THz imagers. Evaluation metrics will be based on the band conversion efficiency and focalization performances, compared with the state-of-the art. Successful completion of this effort will lead to highly sensitive, albeit simple imaging systems that can have a tremendous impact in the ways to detect and image THz in contemporary space applications.
Keywords
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Data Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal