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Space-Division-Multiplexing (SDM) Components for Infrared (IR)



OBJECTIVE: Develop components such as optical isolators, modulators, switches, amplifiers, collimators, couplers, fan-outs for use in fully integrated, high-density, wide-bandwidth, space-division-multiplexing optical fiber links and infrared sensing systems.

DESCRIPTION: Space-division-multiplexing (SDM) fiber links can provide a significant enhancement in the fiber capacity.[1][2] In addition, a technology based on SDM links provides unique capabilities to sensing systems, allowing light-weight, accurate 3D shape sensing in real time.[3]

SDM systems in conjunction with photonic integrated circuits (PICs) have great potential to reduce the size, weight, and power consumption in both optoelectronic and sensing systems. While fiber manufacturing technology has matured to the level of being able to provide fibers of different configurations supporting multiple spatial channels, implementation of fully integrated SDM links requires a variety of SDM components. Further development of SDM technologies is slowed by a lack of commercially available basic optical and optoelectronic components. Among these components are SDM-compatible optical isolators, modulators, switches, amplifiers, collimators, multi-channel PIC fiber couplers, and fan-outs.

While some of these components are available for single-core fibers and some bulk-optics-based analogs are available at the research level, fiber-based SDM components are necessary for fully integrated optoelectronic and sensor systems. For example, integration of multi-channel modulators and detectors with SDM fibers are needed for multi-channel SDM transceivers, SDM switches are needed for software-defined networks, fiber fan-outs are needed to access individual cores in SDM links and in 3D shape-sensing systems, fiber amplifiers supporting multiple spatial channels are required to support long-range SDM links and isolators are necessary for virtually any system where back-reflection needs to be suppressed. The Air Force is interested in devices operating in the full infrared (IR) spectral range. These devices will require development of new methods of creating optical fiber assemblies, incorporating nonlinear and/or electrically controllable materials into these assemblies and novel methods of controlling the device's functionality with electric or magnetic fields. Proposed research is expected to move emerging SDM components from academic research labs to the marketplace and fulfill Air Force demand. Fiber-based components should meet Air Force requirements for low insertion loss, return loss, crosstalk, and polarization sensitivity. Polarization maintaining devices are also of interest. While the fully integrated SDM system may take a few more years to be completely developed and implemented, the solicited SDM components should provide immediate benefits in cost, weight, size, and power efficiency.

The will be no government-furnished equipment in the Phase I of this project.

PHASE I: The Phase I effort will demonstrate feasibility of an approach to achieve the objective goals in one or more SDM components suitable for use with the present fiber infrastructure.

PHASE II: The Phase II effort will develop operational components and characterize their performance in a prototype system using both the present fiber infrastructure and an SDM link.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: SDM components: isolators, circulators, modulators, collimators, and optical switcher, will be validated against the Air Force requirements for the weight, size, power efficiency, and ability to perform under harsh environment. Commercialization of the above components will be accomplished.


    • D. Dai and J.E. Bowers, "Silicon-based On-chip Multiplexing Technologies and Devices for Peta-bit Optical Interconnects," Nanophotonics 3(4-5), 283-311 (2014).


    • D. J. Richardson, J. M. Fini, and L. E. Nelson, "Space-division Multiplexing in Optical Fibres," Nature Photonics 7, 354-362 (2013).


  • J.P. Moore, M.D. Rogge, and T.W. Jones, "Photogrammetric Verification of Fiber Optic Shape Sensors on Flexible Aerospace Structures," Avionics, Fiber-Optics and Photonics Technology Conference (AVFOP), 2012 IEEE, 9-10, 11-13 Sept. (2012).

KEYWORDS: isolator, modulator, coupler, multiplexing, infrared

  • TPOC-1: Igor Anisimov
  • Phone: 937-528-8714
  • Email:
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