The proposed miniaturized photonic IC spectrometer will be well-suited to spacecraft integration due to extreme low-SWaP, low cost and no moving parts. A miniaturized, chip-scale spectrometer will help achieve the science goals of missions using small satellite systems, such as CubeSats and SmallSats, to exploit extensive molecular signatures diagnostic of earth and planetary atmospheres and surfaces, mineral features surfaces of rocky bodies, and volatile emission from primitive bodies (e.g., comets). Nanohmics proposes the integration of its low-SWaP real-time photonic IC spectrometer technology into CubeSats and planetary missions, including telescope assemblies used for work being done at NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Monolithic spacecraft can also benefit from the reduced SWaP-C of the photonic IC spectrometer. The photonic IC stack achieves a 1D array of spatial pixels, useful for push-broom hyperspectral mapping. Further miniaturization can lead to expansion to a 2D array with real-time hyperspectral imaging capabilities. The core photonic IC spectrometer technology can also be developed into a range of other device. For example, the photonic IC spectrometer can be developed into a lab-on-a-chip that can be used as an in-situ instrument or sensor for applications such as planetary missions, astronaut health monitoring, and landers/rovers for point-spectroscopy.
Leveraging our on-going commercialization and sales of high-performance optical instruments and other photonic technologies, we plan to rapidly commercialize our proposed photonic IC spectrometer. This low-cost, low-SWaP technology will be valuable to government (including Department of Defense), commercial, and university R&D, for cost-effective Earth and planetary science applications. Most of the NASA applications stated above are possible non-NASA commercialization opportunities as well. A small spacecraft or aircraft can perform valuable remote sensing spectral analysis using a photonic IC spectrometer operating in the MWIR or LWIR spectral bands. For example, the photonic IC spectrometer can be used by the USGS Spectroscopy Laboratory in its effort to map different characteristics of Earth. Military vehicles/sensors can monitor surroundings for situational awareness, such as disturbed earth or other indicators of possible enemy activity. Such remote sensing exploits the fact that molecular species of interest have diagnostic vibrational bands in the 1-10 μm infrared (IR) spectral region, approximately the mid-wave IR (MWIR) and the long-wave IR (LWIR) spectral bands. The proposed photonic IC interferometer can be rapidly commercially produced with the help of the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI).