Air Force asks industry to develop the latest generation of space-based infrared detector arrays

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio-U.S. Air Force researchers are asking industry to develop and demonstrate large, low-noise, high-uniformity, medium-wave infrared (MWIR) detector arrays for the next generation of space-based launch detection aboard satellites similar to those that are part of the Defense Support Program (DSP) and Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellations of reconnaissance satellites.

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has released a broad agency announcement (BAA-12-05-PKM) for the High Resolution MWIR, Phase 1 Detectors program. The program is designed to advance space-based infrared detector materials growth and processing for medium-wavelength infrared sensor chip assemblies (SCAs) comparable in size to a 2,048-by-2,048-pixel detector in which each pixel measures 30 microns.

These new MWIR detectors would be the primary sensors aboard the next generation of reconnaissance satellites designed to detect the infrared emissions from intense sources of heat, such as missile launches and nuclear blasts.

Air Force researchers are asking industry to develop new MWIR detectors with a cutoff wavelength of 5 microns at an operating temperature goal of 130 Kelvin. The detectors must be in a p-on-n photovoltaic architecture, have thickness non-uniformity of less than 2 percent, and compositional non-uniformity of 1 percent.

The solicitation calls for epitaxial growth of detector films; detector processing; process assessment, characterization, and screening techniques; hybridization and packaging; SCA radiometric testing and analysis; and program management and reporting. Radiometric testing will be necessary to characterize detector performance in quantum efficiency, noise equivalent irradiance, dark current, operability, and uniformity of response.

Air Force researchers expect to award two contracts for the three-year High Resolution MWIR, Phase 1 Detectors program: one from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the other from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

For technical questions contact the Air Force's Joseph Burns by phone at 937-255-9594, by e-mail at, or by post at AFRL/RXPS, Building 651, Room 241, 3005 Hobson Way, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433-7707.

For contracting questions, contact Bobbi Cunningham by phone at 937-255-5476, by e-mail at, or by post at Det 1 AFRL/PKMM, 2310 8th Street, Area B, Building 167, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433-7801.

More information on the High Resolution MWIR, Phase 1 Detectors program is online at

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August 2015
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