Photonic Phased Array Antenna
The present invention provides an ultra-reliable and low loss fiberoptic manifold for lightweight, high-efficiency, photonic phased-array antennas. Our approach is sate-of-the-art in design and closely coupled with proven volume fiber optic component manufacturing techniques, holding a promise of realizing space qualified optical digital delay with performance and cost that have not been achieved before. By using all solid-state inorganic material construction, the proposed optical switching based component technology overcomes the limitation in speed and long-term reliability associated with other approaches. The proposed novel photonic digital time delay can potentially be part of NASA?s next generation large space radar phase-array antennas in which the phase control among antenna elements is beyond electronic means. During the short Phase I, we have successfully demonstrated the full functionality of the proposed approach. The prototype 4 bit photonic delay performed over a temperature range from ?40oC to 75oC with switching speed faster than 100 microsecond, as well as latching and 5V low drive voltage. Moreover, our study indicates that the electro-optic version could offer fast msecond response time and excellent optical performance covering an extremely wide temperature range of ?75?C to 85?C. The Phase I work laid a foundation for further Phase II development.
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