Development of Agile Laser Eye Protection (LEP)
Navy SBIR 2020.1 - Topic N201-020
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick - donna.attick@navy.mil
Opens: January 14, 2020 - Closes: February 12, 2020 (8:00 PM ET)

N201-020

TITLE: Development of Agile Laser Eye Protection (LEP)

 

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Biomedical, Human Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA202 Aircrew Systems

OBJECTIVE: Design and develop “agile” laser eye protective filters that operate independent of the incident wavelength in real time. Additionally, optical transition technologies, such as photochromic or electrochromic sun protection, may be developed.

DESCRIPTION: With the recent increase in laser strikes on aircraft, the need exists to protect the eyes of our Navy aircrews. Current Laser Eye Protection (LEP) technology uses fixed filters that reject specific wavelength bands. This SBIR topic seeks to develop filter technologies that can reject any laser regardless of wavelength in the Ultraviolet (UV), Visible (VIS), and Near Infrared (NIR) wavelength ranges (190-2000 nm).

The “agile” filter technology needs to protect from both continuous wave (CW) and pulsed lasers having pulses as low as one nanosecond (ns). The device must provide at least an optical density (OD) of three while providing as much transmittance as possible. The solution needs to be physically compatible with existing aircrew helmets and oxygen masks as well as spectrally compatible with a full color display such as a commercially available LCD/LED computer monitor. Keep weight to a minimum with a goal of not more than 350 grams. If a visors solution is proposed, it must meet as many of the requirements detailed in MIL-DTL-43511D [Ref 1] as possible. If a spectacle solution is proposed, it must meet as many of the requirements in MIL-PRF-32432A [Ref 2] as possible. Both visor or spectacle solutions must have a base curvature of at least 6 diopters. If a powered solution is proposed, the device needs to be battery powered and operate continuously for a minimum of eight hours.

In addition, the Navy has an interest in designing and developing transition visors or spectacles that can adapt to varying lighting conditions (bright noon sun vs. overcast). The device must have a maximum photopic transmittance of 85% and a minimum photopic transmittance 15%. It should transition in less than 1 second (s) when worn behind a windscreen/ canopy and must be compatible with existing helmets and oxygen masks. If a visor solution is proposed, it must meet as many of the requirements detailed in MIL-DTL-43511D [Ref 1] as possible. If a spectacle solution is proposed, it must meet as many of the requirements in MIL-PRF-32432A [Ref 2] as possible.

PHASE I: Design, develop and demonstrate feasibility of filter technologies that detail the specific characteristics of the filters (weight, transmittance (photopic and scotopic), OD, optical power, maximum lens curvature, etc.). The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Developed and demonstrate prototype filter technology and work with the Navy for laboratory testing and user assessments.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Further refine and finalize technology from Phase II with an emphasis on manufacturability. Technologies developed through this effort are expected to have commercial applications in law enforcement, commercial aviation, construction, manufacturing, medical, and educational facilities among others.

REFERENCES:

1. Department of Defense. MIL-DTL-43511D Visors, Flyer's Helmet, Polycarbonate. Everyspec, 2006. http://everyspec.com/MIL-SPECS/MIL-SPECS-MIL-DTL/MIL-DTL-43511D_15101/

2. Department of Defense. MIL-PRF-32432A Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) System. Everyspec, 2018. http://everyspec.com/MIL-PRF/MIL-PRF-030000-79999/MIL-PRF-32432A_55832/

KEYWORDS: Laser Protection; Photochromic; Liquid Crystal; Tunable; Frequency Agile; Electrochromic; Vision Protection; Optical Limiter; Nonlinear Optics