Sunovia Energy Technologies, Inc. and EPIR Technologies, Inc. (EPIR) are pleased to announce the award of a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to EPIR from NASA which continues to advance the companies strategy to commercialize synergistic cadmium-telluride based technologies and manufacturing processes for solar, infrared and X-ray within the renewable energy, night vision, medical and scientific markets. The Phase II contract specifically calls for the development and fabrication of prototype high-resolution X-ray calorimeters that will be integrated into future NASA missions and follows a very successful Phase I contract. X-ray calorimeters are devices used to measure the energy, or wavelength of the incoming X-ray photons. Semi-metallic mercury telluride has been proven as an excellent absorber material due to its low heat capacity, however, EPIR's research team has demonstrated a breakthrough that proves that MBE grown mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) combines an excellent conductivity with an even lower heat capacity and hence allows superior energy resolution.
The companies have exclusively partnered to commercialize solar, infrared and X-ray technologies for the renewable energy, night vision, medical and scientific markets. Sunovia is the exclusive marketer of all products, technologies and intellectual properties that are developed by EPIR, and currently owns a significant equity interest in EPIR. EPIR is a world leader in research and development of materials and devices for infrared detection and imaging for night vision, missile tracking, exploration in space and other applications. In particular, EPIR and the Microphysics Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, both under the leadership of Dr. Siva Sivananthan, the president of EPIR, have pioneered the growth of MCT on silicon substrates for the past 18 years, and the growth of MCT for the past 25 years. The companies believe MCT is the leading material for infrared detection and imaging.
The companies have also entered the renewable energy field with innovative designs for less expensive high-efficiency solar cells that will utilize EPIR's unique expertise in the growth of high quality cadmium-telluride on silicon (CdTe/Si).
The rich variety of X-ray emitters found outside of the solar system has resulted in the rapid development of detection devices since the inception of X-ray astronomy over fifty years ago. Nearly all observable objects in the night sky either emit X-radiation naturally or can be observed through X-ray absorption. Arguably X-ray astronomy has yielded the most important astronomical discoveries of the last generation. NASA's next generation of X-ray observation missions will require X-ray calorimeters (devices used to measure the energy, or wavelength of the incoming X-ray photons) with energy resolution superior to that of the X-ray calorimeters now available.
This Phase II contract for improved X-ray calorimeters pinpoints an entirely new application for our MCT-related products. In Phase I, EPIR demonstrated that MCT is the best material known for the manufacture of X-ray calorimeters; now, in Phase II, EPIR will fabricate X-ray calorimeters that NASA intends to fly on upcoming NASA missions, including Spectrum-X-Gamma (SXG), an international high-energy astrophysics observatory being built under the leadership of the Russian Space Research Institute, and NeXT, the New X-ray Telescope project, a next-generation X-ray astronomy satellite that the Japanese X-ray astronomy group has proposed, if the NASA proposals for those missions are accepted.
Dr. Caroline Kilbourne of NASA's X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory in Greenbelt, Maryland stated, "EPIR Technologies has been awarded a Phase II SBIR in order to help NASA achieve a breakthrough in optimizing X-ray absorbers for silicon-based calorimeter spectrometers. The resulting X-ray sensors will have significantly higher spectral-resolution, which will be used to provide insight into our hot and dynamic universe."