The quantum effects to be demonstrated in photodetector prototypes through this SBIR program have multiple long-term applications for NASA. First, photodetectors employing these effects to achieve increased transduction efficiency allow optical communication over longer distances and with increased signal-to-noise ratio and bit error rate. Second, sub-quantum conductance in self-assembled graphene-based materials has multiple potential long-term uses. These include 1) electrical wire and cable with room temperature conductivities greater than copper or silver, 2) microelectronic devices based on sub-electron levels, so reduced gate current, power loss and generated heat, so the ability to increase gate density, 3) increased efficiency in motors and generators due to decreased wire resistance and thermal loss, and 4) the possibility of microelectronic devices and storage based on sub-electron levels. Third, photodetectors that exhibit multiple exciton generation (MEG) and quantum efficiencies >1 will improve the performance of optical communication systems, optical imaging systems, and optics-based instrumentation. In a broader sense, this program will allow the investigation of quantum device effects themselves, and the integration of such effects into microelectronic and optoelectronic products.
The quantum material technologies demonstrated through this program have multiple potential applications of importance outside of future NASA missions and programs. Perhaps most important is the transition of sub-quantum conductance and ballistic electron transport effects at room temperature from theory, to NanoSonic's recent experimental demonstration and publication, to practical materials and devices. Ballistic electron transport could lead to electrical wires and cables that exhibit resistance lower than that of copper and silver at room temperature, so without the need for cooling. Lower resistance wire and cable could improve the efficiency of the electrical power distribution grid, all-electric operations and weapons systems on military platforms, and electric motors and generators. Additionally, such materials could reduce heat generation in microelectronic devices and memories, allow smaller size, increased gate density, and reduced cooling requirements. This is to massive computer systems to personal communication devices. Finally, improved optoelectronic components have applications ranging from fiber optic communication networks to large area displays to cell phone cameras.