Compact Integrated Electric Field Detection System for Underwater Objects
Navy SBIR FY2005.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2005.1
Topic No.: N05-003
Topic Title: Compact Integrated Electric Field Detection System for Underwater Objects
Proposal No.: N051-003-0942
Firm: Quantum Applied Science and Research Inc.
5764 Pacific Center Blvd
Suite 107
San Diego, California 92121
Contact: Andrew Hibbs
Phone: (858) 373-0232
Web Site:
Abstract: There has been little use to date of electric (E) field sensors in DoD applications. However, as demonstrated by a well-adapted system such as the shark's, E-field sensing can be a very effective modality underwater, even in the very challenging littoral environment. Quantum Applied Science and Research, Inc. has a pioneered the development of a new class of E-field sensors and sensing systems for ground-based and airborne military applications. This technology utilizes capacitive (i.e. insulated) coupling to the E-field, which is particularly suited to operation underwater because it removes effects associated with water salinity and electrode degradation, and provides higher sensitivity. The program starting point is a new compact multiaxis E-field sensor system that has already been successfully flight-tested in the high noise, demanding environment of an aircraft wingpod. In the Phase I Program, we will define the system requirements, demonstrate performance of a conformal capacitive electrode at the 1 nV/Hz« level in the laboratory, study further improvements, and produce a provisional system design that includes a very compact, low power, EM data processing system, recently delivered to another program. In the Phase I Option we will construct an improved preamplifier optimized for low noise performance underwater.
Benefits: A compact, underwater E-field sensing system would be of significant benefit to the Navy and other DoD components in combating threats in the littoral environment. Having this capability has the potential to provide early warning, monitoring, and quick response in an area that is operationally very challenging. In the private sector, underwater E-sensing would be of interest to homeland security, protection of civilian shoreline infrastructure, undersea surveying, and would have research applications in oceanography and geosciences.