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High Power MWIR Laser with Coherently Combined Emitters




The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a mid-wave infrared (MWIR) laser module, based on coherent combination of several laser emitters, for directed energy and remote sensing applications.

DESCRIPTION: Recent advancements in MWIR laser technology offers efficient continuous wave (CW) and pulsed laser sources operating at near-room temperatures. State of the art semiconductor quantum cascade laser (QCL) emitters produce stable single-mode emissions above 1 watt (W) power levels. Various technologies are employed to increase the laser output power levels based on beam combination from several emitters. The progress in MWIR laser power scaling is limited due to the commercial availability of various optical components required for efficient MWIR beam combining, as well as the difficulties associated with the combination of a larger number of laser emitters into a single diffraction-limited output beam. Presently attainable MWIR laser output power levels do not exceed a few tens of watts. At the same time, coherent beam combining is rapidly evolving as an important technology capable of combining a large number (> 50) of individual emitters, and therefore presents an attractive option for beam combining in MWIR. The purpose of this SBIR is to develop a reliable MWIR laser module for scaling output powers in excess of 100W with high output beam quality, stability, and power. The laser module should be designed for high volume production manufacturing with high yields. The goal is to field this technology to rotary wing platforms where size, weight, and power (SWaP) is a primary concern. Only technologies that have a reasonable chance of meeting SWaP requirements will be considered. Commercial availability of these laser modules with output powers in excess of 100W for directed energy applications will significantly enhance the operational performance of several military laser systems.

PHASE I: Design an innovative concept for the coherent high power MWIR laser beam combining architecture capable of scaling the output beam power levels to hundreds of watts while maintaining near-diffraction-limited output beam quality. Develop a detailed initial concept design of the architecture and the optical components required during the course of the beam combining. The design should clearly demonstrate scalability of the combining approach to several tens of laser emitters operating in the spectral range around 3 to 5 microns, with the combined power levels exceeding 100W CW. Develop detailed analysis of the predicted performance of the combined output beam quality with detailed simulations. This Phase will demonstrate the feasibility of producing a demonstration of the proposed system concept and will outline demonstration success criteria, tolerance analysis, and performance assessment.

PHASE II: Using results from Phase I, produce a prototype beam combining module employing MWIR semiconductor lasers, capable of coherently combining a large number of individual laser emitters, with near-diffraction-limited output beam quality. Demonstrate the prototype in accordance with the demonstration success criteria developed in Phase I. The fractional beam power within the central node of the combined far field distribution should not be less than 80% of the total combined output. The size of the beam combining module should not exceed 18”x12”x4.” Required Phase II deliverables will include the prototype beam combining module, detailed performance characterization results in a laboratory environment, and a final report.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The developed high-power, coherently combined MWIR laser module will be employed to enhance operational characteristics of several potential applications.

MILITARY APPLICATION: This technology has applications in infrared missile countermeasures (IRCM), free-space optical communications, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), and laser-based chemical and biohazard detection.

COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: This technology has applications in remote sensing of industrial effluents, gas leak detection, mineral/petroleum prospecting, medical and dental surgery, LIDAR, and free space optical communication.


  • A. Brignon. Coherent laser beam combining. Wiley-VCH, ISBN 352741150X, 2013.
  • S. Slivken, et. al., Current Status and Potential of High Power Mid-Infrared Intersubband Lasers. Proc. SPIE, Vol. 7608, 76080B, 2010.
  • A. Lyakh, et. al., Continuous wave operation of buried heterostructure 4.6um quantum cascade laser Y-junctions and tree arrays, Opt. Express, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 1203 - 1208, 2014.
  • S. Hugger, et. al., “Power scaling of quantum cascade lasers via multi-emitter beam combining,” Opt. Engineering, Vol. 49, No. 11, 111111, 2010.
  • T-Y Kao, et. al., “Phase-locked arrays of surface-emitting terahertz quantum-cascade lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 96, 101106, 2010.

KEYWORDS: coherent beam combining, mid-wave infrared, MWIR, laser arrays, infrared countermeasures, IRCM, light detection and ranging, LIDAR, chemical and biohazard detection, free-space optical communications.

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