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Compact Multi-spectral Scene Projector Technology


OBJECTIVE: Develop new optical designs and projection techniques to provide low background flickerless generation of dynamic imagery over the wavelength band of about 0.4 to 5.0 microns. DESCRIPTION: Present day scene projectors use an individually heated array of individually addressable resistors (i.e., a million tiny blackbodies) to generate a flicker-free dynamic infrared image. Such devices have limited utility from the standpoints of operability, dynamic range, uniformity, and spectral content. They will not provide realistic imagery at near infrared and visible wavelengths. What is needed is a new approach to scene projection to allow not only generation of traditional 3-12 micron images, but also operate below 3 microns down to 0.4 microns. The design must consider the following desired characteristics: 1. Compact small footprint - can be bolted on to air frames 2. Off-axis readout or other stray light reduction system 3. Flicker-free greyscale operation 4. Capable of multi-spectral operation (simultaneous visible/SWIR/MWIR) 5. 48 micron or smaller pixel pitch 6. Capable of framing rates of 120 Hz or higher 7. Dead pixels, if any, must be few and cold 8. Low electrical power operation (compact and coolable to -35 C or lower) PHASE I: The Phase I objectives will involve research and exploration of a variety of technical approaches to satisfy the desired characteristics listed in the description and choosing an optimum design approach to meet these goals as completely as possible. Furthermore, an estimate of expected performance should be developed for the technological approach chosen in this phase. PHASE II: The Phase II objectives are: 1. Research the maturity, cost and performance issues associated with various technology options and recommend a proposed design solution. 2. Complete the prototype design for a scene projector. 3. Build a working prototype of the scene projector. 4. To image at least a partial array to verify performance expectations developed in Phase I. PHASE III: A multi-spectral scene projector has commercial use primarily in the visible spectrum as presentation and movie projectors. For the military market, it will be an invaluable test tool for all forms of infrared sensors when display of uniform flicker-free dynamic imagery is needed. REFERENCES: 1. D.B. Beasley et al (May 2005). Technologies for synthetic environments: Hardware-in-the-loop testing X. Proc SPIE, Vol. 5785, pp. 68-79. 2. J.C. Brazas and M.W. Kowarz (January 2004). High-resolution laser-projection display system using a grating electromechanical system (GEMS). Proc SPIE, Vol. 5348, pp. 65-75. 3. R. Ginn et al (May 16, 2006). Visible/UV image projector for sensor testing. Proc SPIE, Vol. 6208, 620800. 4. P. Halevei and F. Ramos-Mendieta (August 2000). Tunable photonic crystals with semiconducting constituents. PHYS REV LETT, Vol. 85, pp. 1875-1878. 5. Kang et al (April 2001). Electro-optic behavior of liquid-crystal-filled silica opal photonic crystals: Effect of liquid-crystal alignment. PHYS REV LETT, Vol. 86, pp. 4052-4055.
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