Low-Cost Hybrid Cryocoolers for Next-Generation Focal Plane Arrays

Period of Performance: 10/25/2011 - 07/30/2012

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Creare, Inc.
16 Great Hollow Road Array
Hanover, NH 03755
Principal Investigator

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Future airborne imaging sensors will utilize next-generation focal plane technology that must operate at temperatures from 25 to 30 K. Passive cooling techniques such as stored cryogens are heavy and logistically undesirable. Current airborne cryocoolers are too inefficient in this temperature range and space-borne cryocoolers are prohibitively expensive. On this program, Creare proposes to develop a two-stage hybrid cryocooler that meets the requirements for future airborne sensor systems. The cryocooler will be lightweight, efficient, reliable and affordable. On the Phase I project, we will develop a set of cryocooler requirements, design a hybrid cryocooler to meet these requirements, assess the production cost of the cryocooler, and measure the performance of a brassboard version of the hybrid cryocooler. On the Phase II project, we plan to build, assemble, and test a prototype cryocooler. Creare and our collaborators are well qualified to develop and commercialize this cryocooler technology. Successful completion of this program will enable advanced sensor systems for airborne surveillance and reconnaissance. BENEFIT: The result of this program will be a lightweight, efficient, reliable and affordable cryocooler that enables the usage of next-generation focal plane technology in airborne surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Commercial applications include cooling for sensors used in infrared astronomical and hyperspectral sensors, and infrared vision systems.