Holographic Optical Element for Free Space Optical Communication System on Mobile Platforms
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-056
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick - donna.attick@navy.mil
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Holographic Optical Element for Free Space Optical Communication System on Mobile Platforms


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Battlespace, Electronics ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA265 F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet

OBJECTIVE: Investigate Holographic Optical Element (HOE) as an enabler of enhanced functionality of Free Space Optical (FSO) communication systems; and identify system level capabilities stemming from HOE-enabled functionality to characterize game-changing, electro-optic technology relating to broadband communications and precision relative location sensing.


DESCRIPTION: Current state-of-the-art FSO communication technologies utilize large aperture, heavy, glass elements to collect and focus communications beams. Emergent electro-optic technology provides FSO communication systems with broad band inter-connectivity among mobile platforms; the ability to operate unhindered by radio frequency (RF) jamming or frequency contention, including low probability of intercept/low probability of detection (LPI/LPD); precise relative and absolute location knowledge; and continuous tracking during dynamic maneuvers. HOEs integrated with mobile platform FSO communications systems enable improved Space, Weight, and Power – Cost (SWaP-C) wavelength multiplexing, conformal aperture shaping, and system integration synergy by elimination of heavy glass elements and moving parts associated with Fresnel lenses or Rayleigh prisms.


The Navy seeks design and development of HOE optical functions and performance measures required for mobile platform FSO systems; the conduct of preliminary design studies to characterize HOEs suitable for application to optical communication systems; and the use of simulation and analysis to validate the premise that HOEs will enable game-changing FSO functionality.


PHASE I: Investigate emerging HOE technology; what it is, how it works, and how much improvement can be achieved in SWaP-C relative to a system designed using conventional glass optics. Evaluate SWaP-C improvement relative to the use of conventional glass optics of 50% or better while providing uninterrupted 360º spherical coverage. Consider impact on mobile platform FSO communications and investigate platform integration. Design, evaluate and demonstrate feasibility for near Infra-red (NIR) HOEs including candidate recording materials, multi- wavelength functions, wavelength isolation capabilities, compound optics, and reflective optics. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop prototype HOE hardware and demonstrate enhanced FSO functionality. Assess performance parameters in relation to conventional glass optical components (i.e., weight, resolution, transmission, and aberrations) and identify areas where further development will be required in preparation for field trials. Investigate conformal aperture shaping and system integration synergy.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Finalize and incorporate prototype modules into unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to determine amount of coverage achievable while maneuvering. Assess unmanned and fixed wing platforms for suitability into larger airframes. Identify HOE manufacturers and mature the technology to improve costs and manufacturing processes.


Autonomous swarming UAS require secure communications to coordinate actions in hazardous environments and situations. Industries such as search and rescue, hazardous construction, and law enforcement would benefit from successful technology development.



1.   Nguyen, Tam, Riesing, Kathleen, Kingsbury, Ryan, and Cahoy, Kerri. "Development of a pointing, acquisition, and tracking system for a CubeSat optical communication module." Proc. SPIE 9354, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVII, 93540O, March 16, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.2080591


2.   Van Breugel, F., Morgansen, K. and Dickinson, M.H. “Monocular distance estimation from optic flow during active landing maneuvers.” Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 9(2):025002, Epub 22 May 2014. https://authors.library.caltech.edu/46549/


3.   Anderson, Joel Captain, USAF. "Monocular Passive Ranging by an Optical System with Band Pass Filtering." Thesis, USAF Institute of Technology, AFIT/GAP/ENP/10-M01, March 2010. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a516005.pdf


4.   Schwemmer, Geary K., Rallison, Richard D., Wilkerson, Thomas D., and Guerra, David V. "Popular Summary: Holographic Optical Elements as Scanning Lidar Telescopes." NTRS NASA Archives 2003. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20030025382.pdf


KEYWORDS: UAS; FSO; Optical Communications; RF-Denied; Secure Communications Link; High Bandwidth; Secure Airborne Network



Marc Blaydoe





Adoum Mahamat





These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.2 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.2 BAA SBIR pre-release on May 2, 2019, which opens to receive proposals on May 31, 2019, and closes July 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

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