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Chip-scale Inertial Measurement System


OBJECTIVE: Develop integrated photonic technologies that can enable miniaturization, integration, and military environment operation of high-performance, laser based inertial measurement devices requiring many active and passive optical and electronic components. 

DESCRIPTION: For many applications relevant to the DOD, NASA and commercial sectors, there is a need to develop chip-scale inertial measurement systems (IMS) with capabilities far beyond the current state of the art. For the Air Force, these applications range from unmanned air systems (UAS), micro-air-vehicles (MAVS), miniature precision guided weapons, compact high performance missile and air launched interceptors, and advanced laser beam pointing/steering systems. For these platforms, it is essential to have an IMS that has robust environmental characteristics and extreme sensitivity. Navigation, sensor direction, and operation either in a GPS jammed environment, terrain masking scenarios, or other severe environments are of significant interest to the Air Force. An IMS consists of three gyroscopes and three accelerometers. Even the best IMS that is currently available is not accurate enough for some demanding applications. Furthermore, these systems are too large for many platforms. In recent years, significant progress has been made in developing new technologies that can potentially yield performance parameters that would meet the most stringent requirements. These include, for example, atomic interferometers and superluminal ring lasers. However, these systems are highly complex, requiring many active and passive optical and electronic components. In order to achieve the degree of miniaturization necessary for small platforms, it is therefore necessary to develop integrated photonic technologies that would enable chip-scale implementations of inertial measurement systems based on such technologies. In recent years, significant progress has been made in the area of silicon photonics. The first wave of commercial products in this area are aimed at the telecommunications and data communications spaces, but applications in sensing, analog data processing, coherent systems, laser ranging, and many other areas are rapidly developing. Unfortunately, the emerging technologies suitable for ultra-precise inertial measurement systems are typically based on alkali atoms, such as Cs and Rb. The relevant wavelengths for these alkali atoms, namely 852 nm and 894 nm for Cs and 780 nm and 795 nm for Rb, are not well suited for silicon photonics. As such, there is a need for developing integrated photonic technologies at these wavelengths, with the capability to realize multiple narrow-band and high power lasers and high quantum efficiency photodetectors, as well as ultra-low loss high frequency modulators and passive waveguides on the same chip. In addition, technologies for on-chip and high-fidelity off-set phase locking of diode lasers, implementation of high extinction and low-loss optical isolators, as well as miniature vapor cells with high quality windows need to be developed. The chip-scale IMS should be able to withstand missile and tactical fighter aircraft temperature, acceleration, and vibration environments and not be sensitive to electro-magnetic interference (EMI). While the focus of the development of the integrated photonic technology will be on components necessary for realizing inertial measurement systems based on Cs or Rb atoms, these technologies are also expected to be of significant interest in other areas of precision metrology. For examples, some of the best atomic clocks and magnetometers often make use of these alkali atoms, employing optical excitations at these wavelengths. The chip-scale technology to be developed under this project would also prove useful in miniaturization of these devices. 

PHASE I: Develop a conceptual design of an integrated photonic technology based chip that would be suitable for realizing a chip-scale inertial measurement system, meeting the metrics outlined above, for Cs or Rb. Identify performance parameters and potential challenges for realizing such a system, and develop a plan for addressing these challenges. 

PHASE II: Fabricate and test a chip-scale system, based on the design developed in Phase I, and demonstrate measurement of rotation and acceleration in one axis. Carry out performance studies to identify design modifications necessary for improving performance. Implement the design modifications, realize copies of the system, and develop an integrated electronic control system, to demonstrate simultaneous measurement of rotation and acceleration along three orthogonal axes. 

PHASE III: Military applications include unmanned air systems (UAS), micro-air-vehicles (MAVS), miniature precision guided weapons, compact high performance missile and air launched interceptors, and advanced laser beam pointing/steering systems. Commercial applications include guidance of airplanes under GPS denied conditions and navigation in uncharted terrains. 


1: L. Zimmermann, G. B. Preve, T. Tekin, T. Rosin, and K. Landles, "Packaging and Assembly for Integrated Photonics-A Review of the ePIXpack Photonics Packaging Platform," IEEE J. Sel. Quant., 17, 645-651, (2011).

2:  M. Kasevich, "Precision Navigation Sensors based on AtomInterferometry,"

3:  H.N. Yum, M. Salit, J. Yablon, K. Salit, Y. Wang, and M.S. Shahriar, "Superluminalring laser for hypersensitive sensing," Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 17, pp. 1765817665(2010).

4:  J. Yablon, Z. Zhou, M. Zhou, Y. Wang, S. Tseng, and M.S. Shahriar, "Theoretical modeling and experimental demonstration of Raman probe induced spectral dip for realizing a superluminal laser," Optics Express, Vol. 24, No. 24, 27446 (2016).

KEYWORDS: Optical Gyroscope, Rotation Sensitivity, Fast Light, Hypersensitive Sensing, Superluminal Ring Laser, Integrated Photonics, Precision Navigation, Semiconductor Lasers, Photo-detectors, Atomic Interferometers, Laser, Inertial Measurement Devices 


Gernot Pomrenke 

(703) 696-8426 

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