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Millimeter Wave Imaging with High-Electron-Mobility Transistors (HEMT) or Schottky Diode Rectifiers

Seal of the Agency: DOD

Funding Agency



Year: 2022

Topic Number: CBD22B-T001

Solicitation Number: DoD STTR 22.B

Tagged as:


Phase I

Solicitation Status: Closed

NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.

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Release Schedule

  1. Release Date
    April 20, 2022

  2. Open Date
    May 18, 2022

  3. Due Date(s)
    June 15, 2022

  4. Close Date
    June 15, 2022


RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Warfighting Requirements (GWR) TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Chemical/Bio Defense, Materials/Processes OBJECTIVE: Develop a low-cost millimeter wave imager based on High-electron-mobility transistors and Schottky diode rectifiers. The goal is to develop an advanced composite detector that can be assembled into compact arrays for low cost and high sensitivity W-band imaging applications. DESCRIPTION: Millimeter wave imaging has been shown to be a useful tool in the detection of potential threats to military personnel. Examples include the use of millimeter wave imaging for chemical/biological detection, person-borne improvised explosive device detection, land-mine detection, and unmanned aerial system (UAS) detection. W-band (75 GHz to 110 GHz) imagers have proven to be particularly useful to the military for the detection of threats. A low-cost solution to imaging in the millimeter wave region has the potential to provide significant benefits to numerous programs within the DoD. High-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) and Schottky Diodes have been identified two technologies with potential for addressing the needs of the Chemical and Biological Defense (CBD) Program. High-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) are able to operate at higher frequencies than ordinary transistors. The high sheet concentration of free electrons in HEMTs can support plasma wave propagation between the source and drain, even at frequencies well above the free-electron transit-time cutoff for the device. Since the two-dimensional electron gas in HEMTs can create a direct current (DC) term in the drain-source voltage in response to an applied alternating current (AC) voltage, the HEMT can function as a detector in the gigahertz (GHz) region. HEMT based detectors typically operate at room temperature in the overdamped plasma wave regime where rectification occurs when the in-coming GHz radiation, coupled to the source and gate electrodes, modulates both the carrier density and drift velocity, causing a non-linearity and inducing a plasma wave that propagates through the channel. A DC component is formed with the magnitude of the DC component being proportional to the intensity of the incoming radiation. The resulting DC component can be measured at the drain contact either in a short circuit (photoconductive mode) or in an open circuit (photovoltaic mode) configuration. This detection mechanism depends on the HEMTs transconductance along with asymmetric feeding of the source and drain into the channel. The asymmetric feeding requires that the source and drain electrodes possess different geometries or the channel itself is intrinsically asymmetric. Schottky Diode based devices can be utilized for the development of room temperature millimeter wave sensors. CMOS technology can be used as a platform for the fabrication of the millimeter wave devices, enabling reliable, cost-effective and circuits-friendly solutions. GaAs and GaN-based structures have been successfully used for sensor development. These materials successfully served for the fabrication of nanodiodes for millimeter wave detection. Schottky Diodes are reliable and have fast response times. In its simplest form, a Schottky barrier diode (SDB) consists of a metal film on a lightly doped semiconductor forming a Schottky contact at metal-semiconductor interface with potential barrier and rectifying electrical characteristics. Typically, the Schottky barrier is lower than the energy bandgap of the semiconductor and has a lower forward bias drop and thus can detect and rectify small signal levels in the GHz range. A W-Band imager running at video rate (24 frames/sec or better) should be able to detect objects at a distance of at least 15 meters and possess a noise equivalent temperature difference (NETD) of 3 degrees Kelvin or less. The imager should be able to detect targets with a resolution of 10 cm or better at a distance of 15 meters. PHASE I: Develop and test a single pixel detector operating in the W-Band using either a High-electron-mobility transistors (HEMT), a Schottky Diode Rectifier, or a combination of the two technologies. Demonstrate the system can detect a NETD of 3 degrees or less. Develop a design of an imager operating in the W-Band that can detect an object to at least a distance of 15 meters with a resolution of 10 cm or better with a NETD of 3 degrees K or less. The detector should be able to operate at video rate (24 frames/sec or better). PHASE II: Construct and demonstrate a working prototype W-Band imaging system using the design developed in Phase I. Demonstrate video rate imaging of threats from a distance of 15 meters or better. Deliver the working prototype to the government for further testing. PHASE III: Further research and development during Phase III efforts will be directed toward refining the final deployable equipment and procedures. Design modifications based on results from tests conducted during Phase III will be incorporated into the system. Manufacturability specific to Chemical and Biological Defense Program Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and end-user requirements will be examined. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The development of a low-cost solution to imaging in the millimeter wave region has the potential to provide significant benefits to numerous programs to include chemical sensing in the commercial markets. REFERENCES: 1. R. Al Hadi, J. Grzyb, B. Heinemann and U.R. Pfeiffer; “A Terahertz Detector Array in SiGe HBT Technology,” IEEE J. of Solid State Circuits 48, pp. 2002-2010 (2013). 2. 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Afshari, and K. K. O, “280 GHz and 860 GHz image sensors using Schottky-barrier diodes in 0.13 m digital CMOS,” in IEEE Int. Solid State Circuits Dig., p. 254 (2012). 10. I. Kašalynas, R. Venckevi?ius, D. Seliuta, I. Grigelionis, G. Valušis, “InGaAs-based bow-tie diode for spectroscopic terahertz imaging”, J. Appl. Phys., volume 110, 114505 (2011). 11. I. Kasalynas, R. Venckevicius, G. Valusis, “Continuous Wave Spectroscopic Terahertz Imaging with InGaAs Bow-Tie Diodes at Room Temperature”, IEEE Sens. J., volume 13, pages 50–54 (2013). 12. Y. Kurita, G. Ducournau, D. Coquillat, A. Satou, K. Kobayashi, S.A. Boubanga-Tombet, Y.M. Meziani, V.V. Popov, W. Knap, T. Suemitsu, and T. Otsuji, Ultrahigh sensitive sub-terahertz detection by InP-based asymmetric dual-grating-gate high-electron-mobility transistors and their broadband characteristics, Appl. Phys. Lett. 25, 251114 (2014). 13. S. Li, N. G. Tarr, and P. 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Sánchez-Martín, I. Íñiguez-De-La-Torre, S. Pérez, J. A. Novoa, G. Ducournau, B. Grimbert, C. Gaquière, T. González, and J. Mateos, “GaN nanodiode arrays with improved design for zero-bias sub-THz detection”, Semicond. Sci. Technol., volume 33, 095016 (2018). 19. D. Seliuta, E. Širmulis, V. Tamoši?nas, S. Balakauskas, S. Ašmontas, A. Sužied?lis, J. Gradauskas, G. Valušis, A. Lisauskas, H. Roskos, et al., “Detection of terahertz/sub-terahertz radiation by asymmetrically-shaped 2DEG layers”, Electron Lett., volume 40, pages 631–632 (2004). 20. D. Seliuta, I. Kašalynas, V. Tamoši?nas, S. Balakauskas, Z. Mart?nas, S. Ašmontas, G. Valušis, A. Lisauskas, H. Roskos, and K. Köhler, “Silicon lens-coupled bow-tie InGaAs-based broadband terahertz sensor operating at room temperature”, Electronics Letters, volume 42, pages 825–827 (2006). 21. A. Sužiedelis, J. Gradauskas, S. Ašmontas, G. Valušis, and H. G. Roskos, “Giga- and terahertz frequency band detector based on an asymmetrically necked n-n+-GaAs planar structure”, J. Appl. Phys., volume 93, pages 3034–3038 (2003). 22. N.A. Torkhov, L.I. Babak, and A.A. Kokolov, “On the Application of Schottky Contacts in the Microwave, Extremely High Frequency, and THz Ranges”, Semiconductors. 2019, volume 53, pages 1688–1698 (2019). 23. E. Vassos, J. Churm, J. Powell, C. Viegas, B. Alderman, and A. Feresidis, “Air-bridged Schottky diodes for dynamically tunable millimeter-wave metamaterial phase shifters”, Scientific Reports, volume 11, Article number: 5988 (2021). 24. T. Watanabe, S. Boubanga Tombet, Y. Tanimoto, D. Fateev, V. Popov, D. Coquillat, W. Knap, Y. Meziani, Y. Wang, H. Minamide, H. Ito, and T. Otsuji, “InP- and GaAs-based plasmonic high-electron-mobility transistors for room-temperature ultrahigh-sensitive terahertz sensing and imaging,” IEEE Sensors J. 13, p. 89 (2013). 25. Y. Yang, B. Zhang, X. Zhao, Y. Fan, and X. Chen, “220 GHz wideband integrated receiver front end based on planar Schottky diodes”, Microw. Opt. Technol. Lett., volume 62, pages 2737–2746 (2020). KEY WORDS: High-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT), Schottky Diode Rectifiers, millimeter wave imaging, W-Band imager, plasma wave, room temperature, transconductance