Quantum Cascade Lasers Manufacturing 10X Cost Reduction
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-053
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick - donna.attick@navy.mil
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Quantum Cascade Lasers Manufacturing 10X Cost Reduction




ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA272 Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems


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 section 3.5 of 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: Reduce the cost and improve manufacturability of high-power Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) by 10 times.


DESCRIPTION: QCLs are monolithic semiconductor chips that produce mid-infrared laser light (4-12 microns wavelength range) used for directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM), laser detection and ranging (LIDAR), and remote molecular detection. They are complex, multi-layer semiconductor structures (500-1000 layers) that demand high controllability of the material growth rate and composition [Refs 1, 2]. Current high-power QCLs (=1W) cost in the range of $10,000 each, which makes the adoption of this technology cost prohibitive for many applications, especially those that require a large number of lasers. Further development is needed to obtain a substantial (>10X) reduction in manufacturing costs for high-power QCL.


The program should address the 3 key process steps that add significant costs to QCL manufacturing: base growth, regrowth, and assembly.

1.   Optimize the uniformity and repeatability of the growth of QCL base material on larger size (greater than 3 in. diameter) wafers using high-volume (greater than 10 wafers in one batch) metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) reactors to gain the economies of scale. The laser emission wavelength variation among all wafers in the same batch should be no more than +/- 1.5%, and the laser emission wavelength variation across each wafer within the same batch should not be more than +/- 1.5%. This capability would enable cost-effective stockpiling of qualified laser material at the wafer level.

2.   Improve the epitaxial regrowth of insulating Fe-doped InP to form buried heterostructure lasers using Regrowth by 95%. Normally this is performed with MOCVD, which is the lowest-yielding processing step in the fabrication of buried heterostructure QCLs. The expected improved yield on this regrowth process is to exceed 95%.

3.   QCLs require expensive high thermal conductivity packaging [Ref 3]. Thus, low chip yields lead to high packaged device cost. High yield at this stage is crucial, as the product has incurred the full cost of fabrication. The overall expected chip yield from growth to pre-packaging via the improved manufacturing process is to exceed 92%.


PHASE I: Develop and design an innovative manufacturing process and provide the related cost analysis. Demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed process. Ensure the manufacturing plan meets the specification in the Description. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.


PHASE II: Further develop the full wafer, high yield single-mode QCL manufacturing process. Demonstrate that it achieves a factor of 10x reduction in cost. It is expected that the proposers will produce 100 QCL diodes in order to prove the developed process.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Finalize and transition the high performance QCLs with substantial manufacturing cost reduction based on the methodology attained from Phase II for applications in the areas of DIRCM, advanced chemicals sensors and LIDARs.


The commercial sector could benefit from this crucial, game-changing, low-cost technology development in the areas of detection of toxic gases, environmental pollution monitoring, and non-invasive health monitoring and sensing. Gas and oil companies, and first responders would benefit.



1.   Wang, C., Schwarz, B., Siriani, D., Missaggia, L., Connors, M., Mansuripu, T., and Capasso, F. “MOVPE Growth of LWIR AlnAs/GalnAs/InP Quantum Cascade Lasers: Impact of Growth and Material Quality on Laser Performance.” IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, 2017. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7870635/authors#authors


2.   Shin, J., Mawst, L., & Botez, D. “Crystal Growth via Metal-Organic Vapor Phase Epitaxy of Quantum-Cascade- Laser Structures Composed of Multiple Alloy Compositions.” Journal of Crystal Growth, Volume 357, 15 October 2012, pp. 15-19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022024812004988


3.   Barletta, P., Diehl, L., North, M., Yang, B., Baldasaro, N., & Temple, D. “Advanced Thermal Management of High-Power Quantum Cascade Laser Arrays for Infrared Countermeasures.” Proceedings Volume 10435,

Technologies for Optical Countermeasures XIV, 2017.

https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/10435/1043508/Advanced-thermal-management- of-high-power-quantum-cascade-laser-arrays/10.1117/12.2279116.short?SSO=1


4.   MIL-STD-810G, Department of Defense Test Method Standard: Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests (31 OCT 2008) http://everyspec.com/MIL-STD/MIL-STD-0800-0899/MIL-STD-810G_12306/


KEYWORDS: Quantum Cascade Lasers; Midwave-Infrared; Wall-Plug Efficiency; Laser Array; Manufacturing; Cost Reduction



KK Law





Chandraika (John) Sugrim





NOTICE: The data above is for casual reference only. The official DoD/Navy topic description and BAA information is available on FedBizOpps at www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=0a3eac1d27ab54cfe57a0339b3f863d8&tab=core&_cview=0

These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.2 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.2 BAA SBIR pre-release on May 2, 2019, which opens to receive proposals on May 31, 2019, and closes July 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

Between May 2, 2019 and May 30, 2019 you may communicate directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. During these dates, their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed starting May 31, 2019
when DoD begins accepting proposals for this BAA.

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