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High-speed Resonant-Cavity Infrared Detector Arrays and Narrow-Linewidth Quantum Cascade Lasers for Free Space Communication Links

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W911NF-21-C-0011
Agency Tracking Number: A2-8392
Amount: $1,099,942.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: A19B-T005
Solicitation Number: 19.B
Timeline
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-01-21
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-01-20
Small Business Information
200 N. Prospect Ave.
Madison, WI 53726-4027
United States
DUNS: 829814925
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Robert Marsland
 (608) 216-6920
 rmarsland@intraband.net
Business Contact
 Robert Marsland
Phone: (608) 216-6920
Email: rmarsland@intraband.net
Research Institution
 University of Wisconsin
 Vasanthi Pillai
 
21 North Park St Ste 6401
Madison, WI 53715-1218
United States

 (608) 890-0199
 Nonprofit College or University
Abstract

We propose to develop transmitter (TX) and receiver (RX) components that will enable up to 40 Gb/s communication over a free-space communication link (FSCL) operating in the mid-wave infrared (MWIR). Such components when commercialized will enable lower latency than satellite links, greater security than radio-frequency (RF), longer range than mm-wave, and greater availability in haze and turbulence relative to near-IR systems. To maximize the spectral efficiency, and therefore the data throughput, of a limited-bandwidth free-space link, we propose to develop linear E/O and O/E transducers at MWIR (and eventually LWIR) wavelengths. These linear E/O and O/E modules will enable software-defined-radio methods to maximize the data throughput based on the available optical channel. The buried-heterostructure (BH) distributed feedback (DFB) quantum cascade laser (QCL) designed in the Phase 1 program is expected to deliver a stable, single- mode output (< 100 microrad beam-pointing stability) with average powers greater than 1 W under high-speed modulation. The design has low capacitance and photon lifetime, enabling > 5 GHz 3-dB bandwidth with usable bandwidth exceeding 15 GHz. Further optimization of the lasers, such as our proprietary high-power QCL concept that would achieve > 1 W stable, single- mode average power for shorter cavity lengths, is expected to double these bandwidth values. The detector design we have developed is based on the original resonant-cavity infrared-detector (RCID) structure but with major improvements: rapid wavelength tunability, carrier collection time of ~ 2 ps, and drastically reduced device capacitance. Even with a 5-GHz modulation bandwidth, we can achieve > 20 Gb/s using 16 QAM modulation based on our expected link dynamic range. If atmospheric conditions reduce the available dynamic range, the proposed link architecture can switch to robust QPSK or BPSK modulation instantaneously. The transducers may also include multiple elements to enable multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) or single-input multiple output (SIMO) methods. For example, on the receive side, light received by multiple apertures is independently detected and then combined judiciously to maximize the resulting signal to noise ratio (SNR) in the presence of turbulence and beam wander.  The proposed program will conclude with a link demonstration showing the capacity and robustness of the approach.

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

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