Ruggedized Narrow-Linewidth 1550nm Laser
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-005
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Moore - navair.sbir@navy.mil
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-005 TITLE: Ruggedized Narrow-Linewidth 1550nm Laser

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Electronics

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: JSF-MS

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop and package a high-power, low noise, narrow-linewidth laser for Radio Frequency (RF) photonic link applications on air platforms.

DESCRIPTION: New military communications, sensing and surveillance systems require ever-faster real-time acquisition and transmission of electronic signals to achieve continuous sensing of electromagnetic spectrum. For the development and utilization of such systems, RF photonic-based solutions that provide ultra-wide bandwidths, low power operation, immunity to interference and survival under high input signals are essential. As wider portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are accessed and utilized, wider operational bandwidths are needed. High-power, low-noise, narrow-linewidth fiber coupled lasers hybridly integrated with wideband electro-optic modulators will benefit a wide range of RF/photonic link air platform applications. There have been a number of low-linewidth external cavity semiconductor laser and fiber based devices introduced into the marketplace. In particular, semiconductor active region based devices demonstrated show promise for integrated technologies to meet the performance required. However, at this point, the size, weight and price of available lasers are still high, and performance is still worse than solid state lasers.

One practical method to cut cost and reduce the size, weight and power (SWaP) of the next generation RF/analog laser sources would be through inexpensive, wafer-scale semiconductor laser technology coupled with hybrid package integration, but other proposed solutions will be considered. Current narrow linewidth laser cost is dominated by the labor and piece part costs associated with designing, procuring and assembling lasers. A wafer-scale laser fabrication technology combined low-cost hybrid integration of external optics and control circuitry could significantly reduce packaged narrow-linewidth procurement and package assembly costs. The laser sources must have an ultra-narrow linewidth of <1 kHz, wavelengths in the range of 1545 to 1560 nm, and output powers greater than 100 mW. Their relative intensity noise (RIN) spectrum must be -175 dBc/Hz from 500 MHz to 40 GHz, -155 dBc/Hz from 100 500 MHz, and -110 dBc/Hz at frequencies below 100 MHz. The laser sources are required to be fiber-coupled with a polarization maintaining fiber which produces a polarization extinction ratio of greater than 20 dB. A ruggedized package is required that has a package height less than or equal to 5 mm, a package volume of approximately 2.5 cubic centimeters, or less than 100 cubic centimeters if the laser drive electronics are integrated within the package. The packaged laser device must perform over a temperature range of -40 to 100 degrees Celsius, and maintain hermeticity and optical alignment upon exposure air platform vibration, thermal shock, mechanical shock, and temperature cycling environments.

PHASE I: Design and analyze a new approach for narrow-linewidth 1550 nm RF/photonic laser sources. Demonstrate laser source via a supporting proof of principle bench top experiment showing path to meeting Phase II goals.

PHASE II: Optimize laser source design from Phase I. Test prototype laser source to meet laser source design specifications (linewidth, polarization maintaining fiber coupled output power, relative intensity noise) in an air platform representative operational environment. Test prototype laser in an RF photonic link over temperature with the objective performance levels reached. Characterize the packaged device over the full 40 to +100 degrees Celsius ambient temperature range and air platform vibration and mechanical shock spectrum. If necessary, perform root cause analysis and remediate packaged laser failures. Deliver packaged laser prototypes on evaluation boards.

PHASE III: Perform extensive laser reliability testing and packaged laser source reliability and durability testing. Transition the demonstrated laser source technology to radar systems, electronic warfare systems, and communication systems on Naval Aviation platforms.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The technology would find application in commercial systems such as fiber optic networks and telecommunications.

REFERENCES:
1. Singley, J., Diehl, J. and Urick, V. (22 Nov. 2011). Characterization of lasers for use in analog photonic links. Naval Research Laboratory Memorandum Report, NRL/MR/5650--11-9370. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a557833.pdf.

2. Zhao, Y, et al., (2012). High power and low noise DFB semiconductor lasers for RF photonic links. IEEE Avionics, Fiber-Optics and Photonics Technology Conference.

3. Juodawlkis, P., et al., (2012). High power, compact slab-coupled optical waveguide (SCOW) emitters and their applications. IEEE Avionics, Fiber-Optics and Photonics Technology Conference.

4. Chang, W. (Ed.), (2007). RF Photonic Technology in Optical Fiber Links, Cambridge University Press.

KEYWORDS: Laser, RF Photonics, Ultra-Wideband, Narrow-Linewidth, Semiconductor, Packaging

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