Visible to Near-Infrared Integrated Photonics Development for Quantum Inertial Sensing
Navy SBIR 2020.1 - Topic N201-082
SSP - Mr. Michael Pyryt -
Opens: January 14, 2020 - Closes: February 12, 2020 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Visible to Near-Infrared Integrated Photonics Development for Quantum Inertial Sensing


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Materials/Processes, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Strategic Systems Programs ACAT I

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: Develop a novel integrated photonic component in the visible to near-infrared wavelengths, with a particular focus on devices suitable for quantum inertial sensing. Develop a method to combine commercially and not commercially available components with the manufacturing process to make the components compatible with the integrated photonics architecture.

DESCRIPTION: Advance the development process in the neglected visible and near-infrared wavelength regime, with a particular focus on components and component combinations most immediately relevant to an ultra-compact, robust, frequency-agile, and narrow-line laser system for quantum inertial sensing. This is of particular interest since quantum inertial sensing has the capability to be a single sensor sensitive to both acceleration and rotation.

The continual movement of laser-based devices from the laboratory environment to the commercial environment increases the demand for more compact, rugged, low power, and easily manufactured versions of their bulky lab-scale brethren. But while commercial interests have pushed for development of such integrated devices at the telecom wavelengths, development in the visible and near-infrared wavelengths has lagged behind. Although applications span a multitude of fields including quantum inertial sensing, optogenetics and bio-sensing, the basic building blocks of an integrated photonics system are universal: a light source followed by a mix of other components, which may include optical isolators, waveguides, beamsplitters, polarization manipulators, shutters, frequency shifters, phase shifters, photodetectors, micro-resonators, and grating couplers [Refs 1, 2].

Certain individual components of such an integrated photonics platform are commercially available in fiber-coupled packages. Indeed, some companies have already developed products that combine two of these components into a single package [Ref 3]. Although these fiber-packaged components are extremely compact compared to free-space optics, each exit and re-entry from a waveguide into fiber and back again results in light loss due to coupling inefficiencies. The compact nature of these fiber-packaged components also demands space for the necessary coupling lenses and fiber routings. The components inside the package may be based on laboriously assembled free-space components rather than on integrated photonics.

Moving beyond discrete fiber packages will require a concerted effort in both material and fabrication development. Several of the components mentioned, demand materials with special properties, like a high optical gain (for lasers), a strong Faraday effect (for optical isolators), or a strong optical nonlinearity (for phase modulators and optical frequency doublers). Many also require electrical signals to operate, which would have to be included in the fabrication process.

PHASE I: Perform a design and materials analysis to assess the feasibility of the fabrication of the selected integrated photonics component(s), for incorporation into a quantum inertial sensing system. Analyze potential materials, while exploring the risks and risk mitigation strategies associated with each and identifying the most promising option. If the proposed design operates at a wavelength other than 780nm or 850nm (the relevant wavelengths for most quantum inertial sensors) include a detailed plan for how the system can be adapted to work at those wavelengths and the risks involved in that adaptation. Similarly, perform an analysis that details the planned fabrication process, again identifying risks and risk mitigation strategies. Include an evaluation of the anticipated size, weight, electrical power draw, potential loses and environmental (including thermal, magnetic, vibration, and hermetic seal) sensitivities of the final design. The design must (a) demonstrate a performance benefit over existing technology and (b) demonstrate a pathway to a small and compact (goal of less than 0.15in2 chip cross section), lightweight (goal of less than 1 ounce) , and low-power (goal of less than 100mW). Finally, justify the need for the development of particular components or combination of components, by creating a detailed plan underscoring the necessary reduction in size, weight, or power afforded by the new device(s) for incorporation into a quantum inertial sensing system. Propose in a Phase II plan, a specific device design for fabrication based upon this analysis.

PHASE II: fabricate and characterize a lot of at least ten (10) prototype devices that will be installed into fiber-coupled and electrically-connectorized packages. Perform characterization of the components, demonstrating their basic performance (e.g., optical power production or handling capability, bandwidth, extinction ratio, electrical power draw, etc., as appropriate for the device in question). Evaluate the device’s thermal, magnetic, and vibration sensitivities. Perform tests in accordance with MIL-STD-202, MIL-STD-750, and MIL-STD-883, required to validate the use of the device for the application(s) identified in Phase I. Demonstrate the performance of the device as part of one of those applications. Deliver the ten or more prototypes by the end of Phase II.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Based on the prototypes, continual advancement of integrated photonics in visible and near-infrared wavelengths should lead to production of the design suitable for use in quantum inertial sensing system. The end product technology could be leveraged to bring quantum inertial sensing technology towards a price point that could make it more attractive to the telecommunication and biomedical commercial markets.


1. Barrett, B., Bertoldi, A. and Boyer, P.  "Inertial quantum sensors using light and matter." Physica Scripta, 91:5, 2016. DOI: 10.1088/0031-8949/91/5/053006

2. Munoz, Pascual et al. “Silicon nitride photonic integration for visible light applications.” Optics & Laser Technology, 112:15, 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.optlastec.2018.10.059

3. “Waveguide Based Quantum Devices.” AdvR, Inc., 2019.

KEYWORDS: Integrated Photonics; Inertial Sensor; Accelerometer; Navigation; Quantum Inertial Sensing; Near-infrared Wavelengths