You are here




OBJECTIVE: Infinite degree of freedom for information transmission and processing with secure, survivable, wireless communications in disadvantaged areas. 

DESCRIPTION: The ever-increasing demand for moving larger amounts of data at faster speeds presents new challenges to the current fiber optic communication system. Complex media such as turbulent atmosphere present a different set of challenges for free space optical sensing and data links. Recent progress made in singular optics offer opportunities to overcome some of these challenges. Optical singularities generally can be classified as scalar [1] or vectorial [2]. The most commonly studied scalar optical singularity is optical field with a helical wavefront, also known as optical vortex. Photons of such optical field are proven to carry orbital angular momentum (OAM). Optical OAM multiplexing combined with wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) has been demonstrated for optical fiber communications at speed higher than 1.6 Tb/sec [3]. Optical beams with polarization singularities have been shown with advantages for propagation through turbulence compared with Gaussian beams [4]. Furthermore, both scalar and vectorial singularities have been exploited in quantum information processing for increased dimensions of entanglement. Various methods for the generation of these unconventional optical fields have been developed. The most popular and flexible technique involves the use of liquid crystal spatial light modulators (LC-SLM). However, these systems are bulky and expensive. Techniques that utilize nanostructured materials or surfaces have been explored as alternatives. Nevertheless the demonstrated devices suffer low efficiency and lack of reconfigurability. Perhaps an even more severe limitation comes from the detection side. These optical singularity states are typically detected/measured indirectly with interferometric or holographic techniques. The detection system is bulky, inconvenient and time-consuming. There have been recent efforts using plasmonic structures or meta-hologram to miniaturize the detection device footprint. However, their efficiency generally is very low for practical applications. These technical issues hampered the application of singular optics in practical systems, particularly for those applications that are of interests to the US Air Force. Photonic integrated circuits offer significant advantages in terms of robustness, size, weight and power, making them very attractive for photonic OAM devices. Recently, photonic integrated OAM emitter has been experimentally demonstrated. However, only the transmitter function was reported and the device is not reconfigurable 

PHASE I: Design a novel photonic integrated circuit that is capable of producing and receiving optical OAM states in a tunable way. Theory and simulation should be performed to verify design. Evaluate device performance as a function of number of accessible OAM states. 

PHASE II: Build and test tunable photonic integrated OAM transmitter/receiver and evaluate its performance versus current state of the art data transmission links and secure communication channels. 

PHASE III: Military and commericial applications of the effort include anti-access/areal denial in the cyber domain via ultra-secure quantum communication, C-SWAP (cost, size, weight, and power) of photonic integrated circuitry, and high bandwidth data transmission. Commercialization pathways could include large scale production through the use of the photonics foundary established under the AIM-Photonics initiative, to serve the communications and integrated photonics communities. 


1: A. M. Yao and M. J. Padgett, "Orbital angular momentum: origins, behavior and applications," Adv. Opt. Photon. 3, 161-204 (2011).

2:  Q. Zhan, "Cylindrical vector beams: from mathematical concepts to applications," Adv. Opt. Photon. 1, 1-57 (2009).

3:  N. Bozinovic, Y. Yue, Y. Ren, M. Tur, P. Kristensen, H. Huang, A. E. Willner, and S. Ramachandran, "Terabit-Scale Orbital Angular Momentum Mode Division Multiplexing in Fibers," Science 340, 1545-1548 (2013).

4:  W. Cheng, J. W. Haus and Q. Zhan, "Propagation of vector vortex beams through a turbulent atmosphere," Opt. Express 17, 17829-17836 (2009).

KEYWORDS: Wireless Communications, Orbital Angular Momentum, Secure, Bandwidth 


Joshua Hendrickson 

(937) 713-8927 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government