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Broadband Fibers Optic Components for DoD Applications

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors 

OBJECTIVE: To mature manufacturing processes related to optical fiber technology (fiber, connectors, and fiber based components) supporting low-loss, passive broadband transport of electromagnetic energy spanning ultraviolet through mid-wave infrared portions of the spectrum. 

DESCRIPTION: Advanced R&D breakthroughs in integrated photonics (see [1] for example) as well as the recent award of the Advanced Institute for Manufacturing: Photonics (AIM Photonics, see [2]) are moving manufacturing and photonic integration into ever higher-levels of maturity. Current near-term focus, however, is largely dominated in the telecommunications wavelengths of interest, nominally 1300 nm to 1650 nm, due to large market pulls and consumer drivers such as "the Internet of Things." Many DoD related applications for integrated photonics, however, are both nascent and well-outside of this wavelength range. For instance, many radar applications, such as wind profiling, could be better suited to MWIR wavelengths (3 - 5 microns), whereas many items related to health, bioenvironmental monitoring, and chemical & biological agent sensing, would often work in UV, visible, and long-wavelength IR (LWIR, or 8-14 microns), respectively. Finally, the field of electro-optic countermeasures would further take advantage of technology advances across this entire range, UV - LWIR.A key aspect to utilizing and ultimately deploying and fielding such breakthroughs will also necessitate the advancement of supporting infrastructure related to fiber optics--the ability to off-load and couple between sources and components via (relatively) low-loss fiber optic cables that can support wide swaths of optical bandwidth over the UV through LWIR bands. Several promising candidate materials exist (e.g. chalcogenide, indium fluoride, and telluride based fibers), and in each case, issues surrounding manufacture of fiber optic assemblies--that is, connecting fibers to chip and have ubiquitously available fiber-based components such as isolators, splitters, polarizers, and fiber combiners--must additionally be advanced to take full advantage of integrated photonics solutions outside of the telecommunications regime. This topic seeks to mature such elements supporting UV-LWIR broad-band fiber and component manufacture. Stress should be placed upon passive elements and fiber-optic components, lowering the cost of manufacturing, and assessing and maturing low-loss materials and components for a variety of fiber-based applications spanning multiple wavelengths. 

PHASE I: Identify and prioritize key optical fiber materials and components for maturation with low optical loss / high optical transparency that span as much of the UV-LWIR electromagnetic spectrum as possible. Assess state-of-the-art for creating classes of such fibers (e.g. single mode, multi-mode, polarization maintaining). Design manufacturing program for key challenges. Deliverables include reports and test articles for DoD evaluation. 

PHASE II: Mature manufacturing processes, including demonstration of die attach to multi-spectral semiconductor lasers sources (multiple single emitters or arrays) that span the UV-LWIR wavelength. Demonstrate combined performance and power handling limitations using Phase One developed fibers and components. Project reliability of performance under varying operating conditions. Deliverables include reports and prototype articles for DoD assessment. 

PHASE III: Complete products sets for fibers, components, and prototype packaging. Evaluate performance in all spectral bands. Project manufacturing costs at varying production levels (10s, 100s, 1000s of units). Required deliverables include test reports and demonstration articles for DoD assessment. 

REFERENCES: 

1: "Recent Advances in Silicon Photonic Integrated Circuits," John E. Bowers, Tin Komljenovic, Michael Davenport, Jared Hulme, Alan Y. Liu, Christos T. Santis, Alexander Spott, Sudharsanan Srinivasan, Eric J. Stanton, Chong Zhang, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 9774

2:  Visit http://www.aimphotonics.com for details on this OSD established Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

KEYWORDS: Fiber Optics, Broadband Optical Fibers, Optical Isolators, Optical Fiber Components, Optical Fiber Attachment 

CONTACT(S): 

Dr. Thomas R. Nelson Jr. 

(937) 255-9656 

thomas.nelson.15@us.af.mil 

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