High-Performance Passively Q-Switched Microchip Laser

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Navy
Contract: N68936-06-C-0058
Agency Tracking Number: N061-015-0106
Amount: $79,981.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: N06-015
Solicitation Number: 2006.1
Small Business Information
14540 NE 91st Street, Redmond, WA, 98052
DUNS: 086251469
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Charles Hamilton
 Principal Scientist
 (425) 881-6648
Business Contact
 Chris Tott
Title: General Manager
Phone: (425) 881-6648
Email: chris.tott@bemeyers.com
Research Institution
The Navy is in need of a compact, passively Q-switched microchip laser, with long pre-use life, for deployment on missile systems. Our solution is a diode-pumped Nd:YVO4 – Cr:YAG microclip laser, constructed as a monolithic laser subassembly contained in a 14-pin butterfly package. The pump diode is dual-wavelength-stabilized with a volume Bragg grating over an 80ºC range, enabling the full -40 to +100ºC operational temperature range. Benefits of the laser are generation of the required output on < 0.5 W electrical power, adherence to environmental standards for long life and missile flight, and having the form of a telecom component that is easily installed. Phase I and the Option accomplish the opto-mechanical design of the laser subassembly, and concept development for the hermetic package and thermal management. Design Verification Tests (DVT’s) experimentally verify generation of the required output at several temperatures, confirm the broad temperature range for locking the diode, provide a first indication of MTBF, and subject laser mock-ups to vibration and thermal tests appropriate for missile flight and space qualification standards. The program outcomes are a clear subassembly design and package concept, backed by modeling and experimentation, leading into prototype development in Phase II.BENEFITS: As a result of this development, the Navy will have a supply stream of very small, telecom-like laser components that generate the required output very efficiently, and are constructed for long life (e.g. 10-year storage time) and for the demanding environmental conditions associated with aircraft and missile flight. One of the great achievements of the telecom industry is that telecom components have been brought up to the level of common electronic components. They are rugged and long-lived. Plus, they install to platforms, such as a circuit board, very easily, often involving four fasteners and two electrical clips which grab the pin outs all at once. We follow the telecom lead in this laser development, to generate a diode-pumped solid-state that is at this same level of maturity. The commercial opportunities resulting from developing of this compact, passively Q-switched laser are many. This laser, with its ability to generate very short pulses, is well-suited for laser range finding. With its small size and rugged construction, the laser, or an eye-safe variant of the laser, can be easily integrated into devices such as night vision equipment, surveillance systems, & LADARs. The laser imposes essentially no burden on the users, who are often troops, law enforcement officers, or border agents. A strong benefit of the Q-switched laser output is the ability to add nonlinear optics. This paves the way to harmonic frequency conversion, extending into the deep-ultraviolet, and infrared generation via parametric oscillators. Two of the most pressing problems that our nation faces domestic and foreign threats from explosives, and rampant drug trafficking. The need among the armed forces, border security and law enforcement is the ability to sense explosives, illicit drugs or associated compounds without endangering personnel. Fortunately, nearly all of these materials have strong absorptions in the ultraviolet and the thermal region of the infrared. With wavelength extension of the passively Q-switch laser, active standoff sensors of reasonable size and cost could be developed, giving military, border security and law enforcement personnel the ability to sense such compounds from a safe distance. The market potential for such sensors is very high.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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