The Honolulu-based company will apply its expertise in high performance electronics to design and commercialize a camera that delivers 20 times the performance of conventional “streak cameras” at a lower cost. By taking advantage of recent advances in high-speed digitizing chips and detector arrays, Nalu Scientific’s proposed UPAC will make High Energy Density (HED) and Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) research more accessible to both DOE and individual-investigator research projects.
“The development of clean and plentiful fusion energy depends on monitoring condition of plasma, a very dense state of matter,” explains Nalu Scientific founder and CEO Isar Mostafanezhad, who is also the principal investigator on the UPAC project. “Our work will help scientists achieve their goals by overcoming the limitations of existing measurement tools.”
The UPAC will feature sensor arrays with hundreds of channels on a removable electronics board that can be customized to measure X-rays, neutrons, visible light, electrons, or ions. It will help scientists study the physics of matter at laboratories across the country.
“This grant is further validation that state-of-the-art technology can be designed and developed right here in Hawaii,” Mostafanezhad added. “Our small startup is working on tools that are critical to cutting-edge research being conducted around the world.”
The UPAC, for example, would be able to support scientists at Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester in New York.
The $200,000 grant will fund Phase I of the UPAC project, which will demonstrate the feasibility of the camera and lay the groundwork for the development of a working prototype.
In February, Nalu Scientific was awarded two $150,000, nine-month grants from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs under the Department of Energy (DOE). Those follow two $1 million grants received by Nalu Scientific in September of 2017 and September of 2018 to build a microchip for similar applications.