Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



TECH SPACE
NASA and MIT collaborate to develop space-based quantum-dot spectrometer
by Lori Keesey for GSFC News
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 15, 2017


Principal Investigator Mahmooda Sultana has teamed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a quantum dot spectrometer for use in space. In this photo, she is characterizing the optical properties of the quantum dot pixels. Image courtesy NASA/W. Hrybyk. For a larger version of this image please go here.

A NASA technologist has teamed with the inventor of a new nanotechnology that could transform the way space scientists build spectrometers, the all-important device used by virtually all scientific disciplines to measure the properties of light emanating from astronomical objects, including Earth itself.

Mahmooda Sultana, a research engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, now is collaborating with Moungi Bawendi, a chemistry professor at the Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, to develop a prototype imaging spectrometer based on the emerging quantum-dot technology that Bawendi's group pioneered.

NASA's Center Innovation Fund, which supports potentially trailblazing, high-risk technologies, is funding the effort.

Introducing Quantum Dots
Quantum dots are a type of semiconductor nanocrystal discovered in the early 1980s. Invisible to the naked eye, the dots have proven in testing to absorb different wavelengths of light depending on their size, shape, and chemical composition. The technology is promising to applications that rely on the analysis of light, including smartphone cameras, medical devices, and environmental-testing equipment.

"This is as novel as it gets," Sultana said, referring to the technology that she believes could miniaturize and potentially revolutionize space-based spectrometers, particularly those used on uninhabited aerial vehicles and small satellites. "It really could simplify instrument integration."

Absorption spectrometers, as their name implies, measure the absorption of light as a function of frequency or wavelength due to its interaction with a sample, such as atmospheric gases.

After passing through or interacting with the sample, the light reaches the spectrometer. Traditional spectrometers use gratings, prisms, or interference filters to split the light into its component wavelengths, which their detector pixels then detect to produce spectra. The more intense the absorption in the spectra, the greater the presence of a specific chemical.

While space-based spectrometers are getting smaller due to miniaturization, they still are relatively large, Sultana said.

"Higher-spectral resolution requires long optical paths for instruments that use gratings and prisms. This often results in large instruments. Whereas here, with quantum dots that act like filters that absorb different wavelengths depending on their size and shape, we can make an ultra-compact instrument. In other words, you could eliminate optical parts, like gratings, prisms, and interference filters."

Just as important, the technology allows the instrument developer to generate nearly an unlimited number of different dots. As their size decreases, the wavelength of the light that the quantum dots will absorb decreases.

"This makes it possible to produce a continuously tunable, yet distinct, set of absorptive filters where each pixel is made of a quantum dot of a specific size, shape, or composition. We would have precise control over what each dot absorbs. We could literally customize the instrument to observe many different bands with high-spectral resolution."

Prototype Instrument Under Development
With her NASA technology-development support, Sultana is working to develop, qualify through thermal vacuum and vibration tests, and demonstrate a 20-by-20 quantum-dot array sensitive to visible wavelengths needed to image the sun and the aurora.

However, the technology easily can be expanded to cover a broader range of wavelengths, from ultraviolet to mid-infrared, which may find many potential space applications in Earth science, heliophysics, and planetary science, she said.

Under the collaboration, Sultana is developing an instrument concept particularly for a CubeSat application and MIT doctoral student Jason Yoo is investigating techniques for synthesizing different precursor chemicals to create the dots and then printing them onto a suitable substrate. "Ultimately, we would want to print the dots directly onto the detector pixels," she said.

"This is a very innovative technology," Sultana added, conceding that it is very early in its development. "But we're trying to raise its technology-readiness level very quickly. Several space-science opportunities that could benefit are in the pipeline."


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Technology at NASA
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
TECH SPACE
NASA's TDRS-M space communications satellite begins final testing
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 14, 2017
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Feb 14, 2017 The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) project has begun final testing on a new satellite that will replenish NASA's Space Network. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Aug. 3, 2017, on an Atlas V rocket. The addition of TDRS-M to the fleet will provide the Space Network (SN) ... read more


TECH SPACE
Endurance athletes: Swig mouthwash for improved performance

Looking to the future: Russia, US mull post-ISS cooperation in space

Progress Underway for First Commercial Airlock on Space Station

A new recruit for ESA's astronaut corps

TECH SPACE
Airbus Safran Launchers: 77th consecutive successful launch for Ariane 5

India puts record 104 satellites into orbit

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket vertical at Florida's Kennedy Space Center

India to launch record 104 satellites next week

TECH SPACE
ISRO saves its Mars mission spacecraft from eclipse

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter plays crucial role in search for landing sites

Angling up for Mars science

Swirling spirals at the north pole of Mars

TECH SPACE
Chinese cargo spacecraft set for liftoff in April

China looks to Mars, Jupiter exploration

China's first cargo spacecraft to leave factory

China launches commercial rocket mission Kuaizhou-1A

TECH SPACE
NASA seeks partnerships with US companies to advance commercial space technologies

A New Space Paradigm

Why it's time for Australia to launch its own space agency

Government announces boost for UK commercial space sector

TECH SPACE
NASA and MIT collaborate to develop space-based quantum-dot spectrometer

NASA's TDRS-M space communications satellite begins final testing

Lasers could give space research its broadband moment

Terahertz chips a new way of seeing through matter

TECH SPACE
Possibility of Silicon-Based Life Grows

NASA finds planets of red dwarf stars may face oxygen loss in habitable zones

Dwarf star 200 light years away contains life's building blocks

Santa Fe Institute researchers look for life's lower limits

TECH SPACE
NASA receives science report on Europa lander concept

New Horizons Refines Course for Next Flyby

It's Never 'Groundhog Day' at Jupiter

Public to Choose Jupiter Picture Sites for NASA Juno




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement