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Improved Volume Hologram Optical Elements



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA-263, Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Air Systems

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative solution to significantly improve the performance and manufacturability of Volume Hologram Optical Elements (VHOE) by improving diffraction efficiency, uniformity and reduce aberrations of the element as a whole.

DESCRIPTION: The concept of holography for creating “thin” mirrors, filters and lenses has been around for many decades [1, 2]. Early analysis showed that off-axis aberrations of Volume Hologram Optical Elements (VHOE) significantly exceed those of conventional optics [3]. Moderate quality, inexpensive (60% efficiency, ~$100) holographic gratings are readily available (Edmund Optics, Thorlabs) as well as special purpose, high quality gratings (High energy laser, HORIBA Scientific). However, optical elements such as spherical lenses and mirrors are not readily available for applications such as a compact telescope. The potential advantages of advancing the state of the art in VHOE are significant weight and space savings for large or complex optical systems, when compared to traditional glass element designs [4].

The objective of this SBIR topic is to advance the state of the art on four aspects of VHOE. The first (1) is diffraction efficiency across the element. Attention should be paid to individual hologram efficiency and packing density of multiple holograms (fill factor). The second (2) area is uniformity. Repeatable performance from hologram to hologram in wavelength, efficiency and diffraction angle will lead to good uniformity across the entire optical element. The third (3) area of improvement is in manufacturability [5]. Processes that lead to uniform material thickness, composition and curing and processes that reduce the total hologram write time should be investigated. Reducing production times from hours to minutes, for example, will negate many environmental factors and increase total production volume. Finally (4), an optical model of the VHOE should be developed so that optical system designers could incorporate VHOE’s into the design process.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DSS and NAVAIR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Identify the technical hurdles to VHOE performance improvement and manufacturability. Develop and demonstrate the feasibility of the new technical approaches. Perform preliminary bench-top testing to verify performance of component or design.

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a working bench-top design. Sufficiently harden the bench-top design such that the element can be handled and mounted for testing and demonstration. Perform testing to include diffraction efficiency, uniformity and predicted versus actual diffraction angle across the element. Design and develop working prototype based on results of the hardened bench-top design. Complete preliminary design of VHOE incorporated into an optical system based on developed model of VHOE.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Complete prototype development and document the design. Prepare VHOE system designs and optical system units to be procured and tested/demonstrated in Navy systems. Support the Navy in testing and demonstrating the units and ensuring that they are production ready for use in Navy Systems. Private Sector Commercial Potential: VHOE optical elements will have wide commercial applications such as compact, lightweight optical systems. For example, replacing a thick, curved surface optic with a thin plate VHOE will enable designs that were otherwise not possible due to size constraints.


  • Collier, R. J. et al. (1971). Optical Holography, Academic Press, New York, 3-4
  • Rakuljic, G. A. & Leyva, V., (1993). Volume holographic narrow-band optical filter, Opt. Lett., 18 (6) 459-461
  • Close, D.H. (1975). Holographic Optical Elements, Optical Engineering, Vol. 14 No. 5
  • Matchett, J.D., Billmers, R.I., (2007). Volume holographic beam splitter for hyperspectral imaging applications, Proc. SPIE 6668
  • Bruder, F., et al. (2015). Diffractive optics with high Bragg selectivity: volume holographic optical elements in Bayfol® HX photopolymer film, Proc. SPIE 9626

KEYWORDS: Volume Hologram; Grating Efficiency; Holographic Element; thin film lens; VHOE; optical systems

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