SBIR Phase 12.1 (DNDO)
The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is soliciting proposals for development and supply of precursor (starting) materials to be used to grow large single crystals of several different compounds of interest to DNDO, namely, SrI2:Eu and CLYC (Cs2LiYCl6:Ce). Actual growth would be performed by other efforts outside of this solicitation. This topic is seeking proposals to provide precursor materials for either or both of these crystals. The materials must be stoichiometric and very pure, both in terms of the metallic impurities as well as the various oxides that form (e.g. hydroxides, hydrates, oxyiodides, etc.). In Phase I, demonstration of the capability to supply pure precursor materials would need to be established. If Phase I proves successful, then Phase II and later phases would require production of a steady supply to be used as government furnished material (GFM). For SrI2:Eu, the starting materials are SrI2 and EuI2. The objective of this work is to produce material that has less than 10 ppm metallic impurities, with the exception of barium and calcium which can be as high as 0.3%. The total oxide, sulfide and carbon content shall be less than 50 ppm by chemical and elemental analyses (e.g., by LECO). In addition, excess iodine should not be introduced during chemical processing, which can lead to discoloration. It is preferable for the material to be in the form of beads rather than powder, although this is not an essential requirement. The selected performer will be asked to provide an analysis supporting the production of SrI2 for <$3/g in the near-term (1 year), and for <$1/g in the longer term (5 years) in large quantity; for EuI2 the target prices are, respectively, <$20/g and <$10/g. The Offeror selected for funding will be expected to provide DHS with at least two different lots of each material, totaling at least 300 g of SrI2 and 15 g of EuI2. The selected offeror will be asked to provide analysis supporting the purity of the precursor materials. For CLYC, the starting materials include CsCl, YCl3, LiCl (preferably with 95% 6Li) and CeCl3. Beads are preferred and material with <10 ppm metallic impurities is desired. The total oxide and carbon content shall be less than 50 ppm. The selected performer will be asked to provide an analysis supporting the production of starting materials for <$3/g (not including enriched version of 6LiCl) in the near-term (1 year), and for <$1/g in the longer term (5 years) in large quantity. Projected cost for 6LiCl should be <$5/g in 5 years. The Offeror selected for funding will be expected to provide DHS with at least two different lots of each material, totaling at least 200 g, 25 g, 110 g of CsCl, LiCl and YCl3, respectively, and 5 g of CeCl3. The selected Offeror will be asked to provide analysis supporting the purity of the precursor materials.
Current algorithms designed to detect, locate, associate with visual observables and signatures have not matched the development of computational capabilities contained within low cost COTS systems in wide circulation to include smartphones, tablets, and other embedded processors as a detection acquisition and interface modality. Improvements in processing algorithms that may effectively leverage these computational platforms and associated sensors (i.e. GPS, cellular/wi-fi/bluetooth communication, display, and MEMS-based accelerometers) are sought with the focus on acquisition and analysis to enable rapid adaptation of user search to first detect, locate, and then track the source. Potential examples applications enabled through rapid acquisition (through list mode detection algorithms or rapid sampling rate algorithms) and advanced low statistics detection of spectral anomalies include but are not limited to the following expert search techniques: a) Use of the user's body to occlude the line-of-sight direction to the source from a detector mounted near the body (i.e. on the hip) during a spin (i.e. spin-to-locate). The concept would be to switch from detect mode once a detection alarm is reached and then progress to locate mode through a higher sampling rate and subsequent visualization of the tagged orientation to the source. Association of this direction via synchronization of video camera, magnetometer, MEMs-based accelerometers, or equivalent technology is a plus. b) Estimate source offset distance by short-distance (under a few meters) spatial mapping to include arm to arm "painting of the wall" for a handheld detector. The enabling technology would require fast tracking of detector position in x,y,z technique should incorporate data visualization of the radiation map object and analysis of that result to include offset distance from the sampled position. c) Use of occluding background objects as an edge detector in cluttered environments for correlating source visibility loss to reductions in gamma signatures. This advanced technique may leverage image recognition and target tracking technologies for pedestrian applications to coordinate the edge effect in the gamma signature for tagging of video gamma anomaly. This technique may leverage existing video concepts or multiband video concepts (such as Xbox Kinect) to track and estimate source distance, which would further allow for documentation of contextual information documentation and reporting for various anomalies. d) Use of search plane radiation gradients for improved detection, localization, and documentation of position. By providing radiation mapping products, the use of spatial correlations improve the detection range of existing detectors as well as provide documentation of prior search positions. The enabling technology includes leveraging the capability to track and document operator location in GPS-denied environments via cellular, UWB, RFID, MEMs-based Inertial Measuring Units, manual placement, or other comparable approaches.
The intended effort will develop a simple to use smart phone application(s) compatible with current state-of-art smart phones or pads (iPhone, Droid, etc.) that will provide a number of functions to support definitive interpretation and adjudication of gamma-ray spectra collected by law enforcement, first responders and other potential novice users of RIID or SPRD systems. These functions may include, but are not limited to: a) Automated downloading of background and foreground gamma-ray spectra and other radiation sensing data from a range of commercial off the shelf (COTS) RIID systems b) Capturing a displayed spectrum from a RIID device if no download is readily available c) Capturing through video/imaging of the environment or object on which the spectrum was acquired as part of the anomaly report d) Automated formatting, transferring and uploading of acquired spectra, radiation sensing data and imagery to a reachback location(s) and repositories using NIEM compliant standards e) Automated collection and transfer of ancillary data as appropriate (time series analysis, spatial analysis, and supporting contextual information) f) Automated dialing/messaging information to the reachback location(s) to provide law enforcement easy access to subject matter experts for assessment and data interpretation g) Expanding data visualization to include augmented reality for tagging and discriminating between resolved anomalies and unresolved anomalies such as threats. h) Real-time monitoring of the RIID or SPRD device health or alarm status. i) Links to anomaly repositories where commonalities may be identified to include common locations, detectors, spectra, or image recognition signatures. j) Incorporation of example anomaly reports to include similar anomaly features for review.
Thallium Bromide (TlBr) is a semiconductor material that is demonstrating utility for near-room-temperature gamma and x-ray detection. Advantageous qualities include high Z (Tl-81, Br-35), high density (7.56 gm/cm3), high electrical resistivity (> 10e10 ohm-cm), simple (cubic) crystal structure, low congruent melting point (480oC), good charge transport (mu-tau of 6.5e-3 cm2/V), potential for very good energy resolution (less than 0.9% at 662 keV), satisfactory mechanical properties, and relatively easy growth of large (e.g., 1x1x1.5 cm3) crystals. One remaining issue is the room temperature polarization effects which degrade energy resolution over time. Many parallel approaches are being taken to overcome this problem, and several advances have already been made and are presently being made to reduce this effect. One near-term solution to polarization is cooling to temperatures slightly (compared to HPGe semiconductor operation) below room temperature (as low as -20C to possibly as high as +10C). However, this topic area is seeking advances to provide crystals which can be made available to operate at room temperature. This topic area seeks proposals to advance utilization of processes and techniques to enable stable, room-temperature (and specifically not near-room temperature) operation of large TlBr crystals (equal or larger than 1.0 x 1.0 x 1.5 cm3) which are immune from polarization effects and the subsequent degradation in energy resolution. Stability is defined as operation for at least one year with less than 10% degradation in energy resolution from the nominal starting value of the energy resolution. For example, presently achievable energy resolution results are 1) 0.8 % energy resolution at 662 keV for 5 mm thick depth corrected pixels; and 2) 1.5% energy resolution at 662 keV for 1.3 cm thick depth corrected pixels. Techniques and processes could include, but not be limited to, one or more of the following: proper raw materials supply choice, raw materials preparation and processing, material doping, crystal growth conditions or methods, annealing, crystal surface preparation, contact choice and application methods, packaging of crystals, break-in operational processes, and device configuration. In the proposal, Offerors need to show an understanding of current best practices and state of the art with respect to large volume, room-temperature semiconductor growth and handling, with emphasis on TlBr. The proposal must clearly justify how the proposed approach would support large volume, room temperature operation of TlBr. TlBr crystals will not be provided as GFM. Offerors need to demonstrate the capability to obtain or fabricate sufficient sizes and quantities of consistent high quality crystals for use as needed in their proposed approach.
Thallium Bromide (TlBr) is a semiconductor material that is demonstrating utility for near-room-temperature gamma and x-ray detection. Advantageous qualities include high Z (Tl-81, Br-35), high density (7.56 gm/cm3), high electrical resistivity (> 10e10 ohm-cm), simple (cubic) crystal structure, low congruent melting point (480oC), good charge transport (mu-tau of 6.5e-3 cm2/V), potential for very good energy resolution (less than 0.9% at 662 keV), satisfactory mechanical properties, and relatively easy growth of large (e.g., 1x1x1.5 cm3) crystals. One remaining issue is the room temperature polarization effects which degrade energy resolution over time. Many parallel approaches are being taken to overcome this problem, and several advances have already been made and are presently being made to reduce this effect. One near-term solution to polarization is cooling to temperatures slightly (compared to HPGe semiconductor operation) below room temperature (as low as -20C to possibly as high as +10C). While cooling is not an ideal long-term solution, it does allow progress on other aspects of this promising material, until room temperature operation can be achieved and may even provide a near term or long term solution to utilizing this promising material. Stability is defined as operation for at least one year with less than 5% degradation in energy resolution. The detector module would integrate state-of-art techniques and component technologies, resulting in a compact device capable of 1% or better energy resolution at 662 keV from TlBr crystals no smaller than 1 cm3 (1x1x1.5 cm3 or larger crystals preferred). Critical to the integrated approach is optimization of power management to support long duration battery operation. Phase I must include a power audit to show feasibility of operating the module for relevant times (greater than 8 hrs, preferably 12 or more) under realistic conditions. Offerors need to adequately address in the proposal important issues related to this effort including, as appropriate, the following: 1) material handling, including as appropriate, crystal growth, cutting, polishing, and surface preparation; 2) contact choice and application techniques for electrodes; 3) packaging of crystals and sub-components; 4) ASIC and FPGA choice, design, and integration and/or 5) signal processing. Offerors are not restricted to electrode and readout configuration (e.g, pixelated, Frisch grid, coplanar, etc.). Ultimate cost of design should be factor in choosing designs. Proposals should include identification of major risks and proposed mitigation strategies associated with crystal preparation/packaging, component technologies and system integration. TlBr crystals will not be provided as GFM. Offerors need to demonstrate the capability to obtain or fabricate sufficient sizes and quantities of consistent high quality crystals for use as needed in their proposed approach.
The COTS available material, NaI (Sodium Iodide), LaBr3 (Lathanum Bromide), and other advanced scintillator materials currently in development require electronics that can enable and enhance detection and identification of radionuclide sources. There is a need to develop a low cost, low power (less than 2 W), small form factor (less than 0.6 lbs), electronics package with standard interface with COTS available photo-converters (e.g., PMT, solid-state photo-multipliers, or other alternatives) for a passive gamma spectroscopy systems where the further supporting electronics are capable to perform digital pulse processing (i.e., 1 ns or better) with high throughput (i.e., greater than 100,000cps), improved resolution at high count rates, better temperature stability (in -40F to 1220F environment) , and gain stability. In Phase II, the proposal should include a detailed description on additional advancements to include, but not limited to: increased in processor speeds, improved digital gain stabilization, and reduced processor size, improvement in portability, high count rate performance, and peak position stability of gamma spectroscopy systems leading to superior performance when identifying and quantifying radionuclides. The final development of the electronics should be optimize to exceed the performance of the current gamma detectors achieving an energy resolution in high gamma flux (~100,000 cps) that is better than the current market performance (e.g., for NaI 6% energy resolution at 662 keV, FWHM).
DNDO and other agencies conduct T&E and modeling and simulation (M&S) activities that produce very large sets of data that must be archived for subsequent reuse and analysis. Currently there are no consistent, complete, nor user-friendly capabilities for this purpose. These data include: (1) raw data collected during field or operational testing, (2) processed data generated by instrumentation, models, simulation, or other analysis of developmental and applied technologies, (3) the databases and other documentation collected during the conduct of T&E and M&S events, (4) the plans, procedures, and other documentation regarding the design of T&E and M&S events, and (5) the models, data, and software components used in M&S events. These data are estimated to approach 100TB over the next five years, and are collected/produced by a wide variety of test data collection systems that have their own unique internal data models.