Metamaterial Devices for Photonic Systems
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-126
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Metamaterial Devices for Photonic Systems


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Sensors, Weapons




The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: The objective is to enhance laser propagation properties by developing innovative Photonic Optical Angular Momentum (OAM) and Spin Angular Momentum (SAM) “metamaterials” that yield optical devices offering highly variable volumetric responsivities. Such devices could exploit novel optical capabilities such as a highly tunable refractive index (positive to negative).


DESCRIPTION: Coupled with appropriate laser sources and optical receivers, metamaterial enhanced systems could result in significant improvements in performance. In such devices, elements could be designed to respond uniquely to particular OAM phase or “spin”, replacing traditional optics. This offers a significant potential advancement over traditional approaches using polarizers, for both coherent and incoherent photonic applications. Optical devices having unique and highly variable volumetric responses that interact with unique photons in OAM and SAM will allow utilization of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) optical receivers (or easily modified COTS receivers) leading to significant performance improvements for the military. Of specific interest for this topic is the periodic function interaction with the maritime atmosphere, water column scattering, and turbulence. In these cases, the objective is to maximize transmission "power in the bucket" or to significantly increase signal to noise ratio. In either case, the result is reduced turbulent induced refraction and atmospheric scatter, and possibly reduced molecular absorptions. For this topic, the threshold objective is to examine only those metamaterial structures that offer capabilities in the ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths (300-2200 nanometers). Initially, higher power laser sources with wavelengths that have minima for underwater absorption (470-570nm) for communications and maritime atmospheric absorption (1000-1100nm) will be considered the primary focus wavelengths for study. While wider bandwidth optical metamaterials will be considered as a goal, 1100nm through mid-wave infrared and/or long wave infrared are not the initial focus of this topic. Of primary importance are devices for which modelling demonstrates a 2X or greater increase power in the bucket (PIB) for continuous wave (CW) lasers in the near infrared (IR) in turbulent conditions, and pulsed sources supporting data rates greater than 100kbps with error rates less than 1:10^6

for underwater communications. The objective for underwater communications includes low-power consumption (<1 watt), compactness (<100 cubic inches), high data transfer rates (>10mbs), and long ranges (>1km, depending on turbidity) in both littoral and deep ocean environments.


Unique interactions between photons having OAM and SAM at the atomic level opens potentially new optical component options, where periodic excitation of materials (including plasmons) result in localized maxima or minima affecting its phase response. As a result, new sensing, propagation and increased conversion efficiencies can result. In the field of nonlinear optical dynamics, spiral or chiral wave phenomena in excitable media, such as those seen in low- to high-power, solid-state lasers, have long been of interest. While polarization is limited to two spin states, photons with OAM can have multiple eigenstates and "unique" interactions with materials based on those eigenvalues. For example, spiral waves with particular eigenvalues emanating from solid state lasers have to be coupled with the states of phase oscillators. When correctly modeled and then constructed, they can produce effects yielding higher performance. Three-dimensional, metamaterial optical components offer the opportunity to move well beyond current state-of-the-art optical components by exploiting OAM and SAM characteristics, while still utilizing little more than either modified or standard COTS solid state laser sources and COTS optical receivers. The nature of these unique wavefront structures causes photons to interact (or rather avoid interaction) with matter in ways that can be exploited within properly constructed metamaterials. This topic seeks to identify, design, and construct three dimensional photonic OAM and SAM metamaterial structures suitable for use as optical elements within photonic systems such as those for LADAR/LIDAR, optical communications and imagers. The interaction of the photon with Mie or Rayleigh resonances that produce electromagnetic field localizations and enhancements, and those with OAM or SAM which change both the magnitude of the interaction and the directionality, are of interest. Of particular interest is the potential for reducing turbulence induced refractions, where the atmospheric characteristics of a propagation path (e.g., estimated by Fried's coherence length (r0), Greenwood Frequency (fG), Isoplanatic Angle, Rytov Number) indicate beam bifurcation or break-up. This topic seeks to develop potential solutions for and to better understand the underlying physics and potential for photonic OAM and SAM interactions. This topic encompasses individual beam combining (coherent and incoherent methods) and unique interactions with optical sensors under conditions where turbulent flows occur. With higher photon densities, the resulting interaction and resonances with matter may induce plasmon creation well below expected bulk thresholds, providing several relevant and practical electronic device applications to commercially available sensors. Further, the investigation of photons with OAM and SAM and “metamaterials” could result in reconfigurable responsivity where the bulk EM activity, determined by the OAM scattering properties of the structures, results in novel properties. Such properties include a tunable positive to negative refractive index. This is much like a two-dimensional polarized surface material or “metasurface” that can be structured to exhibit extremely high transmissivity (or high impedance) to incident EM waves. However, an OAM “metasurface” can be structured to respond to OAM phase or “spin” in even more unique ways.


PHASE I: Perform both initial modelling and reduction of optical turbidity attenuation as measured in laboratory experiments utilizing COTS laser sources and optical sensors, which are expected to confirm initial proposed technical approaches. Conduct initial modelling utilizing existing commercially available optical simulation software, or modified versions that enable specific OAM/SAM interaction models. Carry out laboratory experimentation using synthetic sea water and normal tap water to confirm proposed capability improvement trends or objectives. For Phase I, experimental setup for attenuation measurement would be simplified and comprised of at least three in-line components: a water cell, a laser of known power, and a receiver/power meter. A calibrated laser would be made to pass through water filled cell, and on the other end of the cell, power is collected and made to fall on power meter. Introduction of various turbidity, turbulence, and plasmonic metasurfaces would then be introduced to establish known systems parameters and to provide comparative results. Dimensions, configuration and construction of the test cell would be proposed, utilizing as much available COTS hardware as possible. Alternatives to laboratory scale testing are possible, however, results mustto provide evidence of performance beyond any reasonable doubt. For example, two or more independent modeling approaches that provide performance predictions and have a correlation higher than 75% would be considered a compelling result. By the end of Phase I, the proposed capability improvement trends or objectives and goals would be refined with specific implementations identified, suitable for potential transition. Develop a Phase II plan.


PHASE II: In the first year, based upon the results of Phase I analysis, experimentation and the development plan, either fabricate new components or modify existing COTS products and subject them initially to low power

(approximately 5 to 100 W) evaluations over increasing distances and in increasingly realistic environments. At some point, perform required field experimentation. Collect careful measurements of critical metrics, such as insertion losses and various signal characteristics, and compare to previous results from Phase I, along with any associated optical, environmental, and systems performance data. In the second year, evaluate higher-power, solid- state, fiber-coupled laser sources, with evaluation of range performance coupled metrics. Collect data on resulting power handling capability, insertion losses, signal isolation/signal-to-noise ratio improvements, transmit and receive signal parameters, and thermal performance of the systems. Compile the data into a delivered testing database, and report test results and conclusions. Meet the goals of (1) increasing power handling with reduced signal-to-noise ratio (or increased power in the bucket) capabilities, (2) increased range performance in turbulent conditions, (3) higher data rates, (4) improved signal isolation with respect to potential to intercept, and (5) minimization of overall system SWaP. Demonstrate stable device performance for operating times of ten (10) minutes or more at stable continuous-wave (CW) laser power levels. Develop a final report that includes all data collected and a discussion of any remaining steps required to develop a commercial version of the device.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the transition of resulting components and designs to underwater communications or a ship-based laser system, and further develop the resulting COTS/Modified COTS technology to support system integration for Navy applications. For example, a shipboard laser system comprised of multiple fiber lasers which are beam-combined into a single militarily useful laser beam at a very high power level is expected, and a metamaterials device for a High Energy Solid State Fiber Laser that utilizes OAM/SAM properties to increase power in the bucket metrics at longer ranges is of significant interest. The primary applications of metamaterials devices for photonic systems that utilize OAM/SAM properties would be where high-power fiber lasers are utilized, for highly accurate sensing, and where defense-related weaponry has power in the bucket as an accepted metric. However, the techniques employed in metamaterials for OAM and SAM can find use in applications such as optical targeting, tracking, sensing, broadband communication, and free space satellite data streaming utilizing solid state lasers with consistently high power and excellent beam quality. Aside from the aforementioned military applications, public and private sector applications include telecommunications (both fiber optic and free space optical), meteorological LIDAR systems, and medical laser based diagnostic systems.



1.   Blackbeard, N., Wieczoreka, S., Erzgräber, H. and Dutta, P. S. From synchronisation to persistent optical turbulence in laser arrays. Physica D 43, 2014, pp. 286–287.


2.   Yadin, Yoav, Scheuer, Jacob, Gross, Yoav, and Orenstein, Meir, Spontaneous locking of optical vortices in coupled semiconductor lasers., Physical Review A 90, 033803 (2014).


3.   Li, Yuan, Morgan, Kaitlyn, Li, Wenzhe, Miller, Jerome, Watkins, Richard, and Johnson, Eric. Multi-dimensional QAM equivalent constellation using coherently coupled orbital angular momentum (OAM) modes in optical communication. Optics Express, 26, 30969 (2018). 10.1364/OE.26.030969;


4.   Watkins, Richard J., Miller, Jerome & Li, Wenzhe, Morgan, Kaitlyn, and Johnson, Eric. Propagation Simulation of Higher Order Bessel Beams Integrated in Time (HOBBIT). OSA Publishing, 2018.


KEYWORDS: Lasers; Communications; LADAR; LIDAR; Underwater Communications; Optics; Metamaterials; Turbulence



Mike Wardlaw




Peter Morrison




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