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State College, PA, United States

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 119.89K | Year: 2009

The primary objective of this proposed research effort is to develop an unconventional broadband infrared (IR) optical system for the advanced multi-functional, lower scattering loss, higher discrimination capability LADAR seeker and IR imager. The key innovation of the proposed system is harnessing a novel super-broadband IR source that can cove the near IR (NIR), middle IR (MWIR), and long wave IR (LWIR) spectral regime. Such a broadband supercontinuum IR source is realized via the nonlinear broadening of the narrow spectrum pumping light beam in highly IR transmissive, high laser damage threshold optical fibers and/or waveguides. The major advantages of the proposed optical system include following unique feastures: (1) it is the most effective way to realize the Broadband IR source, (2) it has a much reduced scattering propagation loss (at least an order) due to the involvement of the long IR wavelength, (3) it can significantly increase the target recognition capability because it can provide not only the geometric information of the target but also the material composition of the target (an effective way to fight camouflaged targets), and (4) it also enable many other critical applications such as active IR imaging, countering-IR imaging, and long range standoff chemical and explosive detections.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.66K | Year: 2015

In this project, we will grow an innovative, coilable and true double-clad crystalline YAG fiber and investigate its application to high energy lasers. The grown fiber will have all the required properties: single transversal mode operation, coilable fiber (to~100 cm), low propagation loss (

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.79K | Year: 2010

The primary objective of this proposed project is to develop an ultrafast speed, polarization independent optical aperture gating device, which can be conveniently integrated into a high sensitivity photodetector so that the daytime performance of the LIDAR can be dramatically improved. To realize this goal, we will develop an innovative tunable photonic nanostructure, which can offer following unprecedented performances: (1) polarization independent operation, (2) less than 10 ns switching speed, (3) less than < 2 dB insertion loss, (4) OD 4 or better extinction ratio, (5) high out-of-band rejection, (6) large field of view (+/- 40 deg), (7) 1 KHz or higher repetition rate, and (8) compact size and small footprint. At the phase I stage, we will conduct both the theoretical and the experimental feasibility study of the proposed approach. A bench-top experimental system (with an aperture size 1 square millimeter or larger) will be fabricated and tested. At the phase II stage, we will collaborate with a major commercial partner in this field to develop a ready-to-use gating prototype device with an aperture size (1 square centimeter or larger) and integrate this device into a high sensitivity photodetector (e.g., a photomultiplier tube).

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 729.64K | Year: 2012

The objective of this SBIR Phase II effort is to grow larger size (50 mm diameter x 25 mm thick or larger) single crystals of aluminum oxynitride (AlON) and aluminum nitride (AlN) by refining and optimizing the rapid and contamination free growth method developed at the Phase I stage. The major properties of the single crystals will be quantitatively characterized and evaluated. The crystals should be at the single crystal phase, have a high linear transmittance (85 % or higher) over the entire UV-VIS-IR spectral range, and are optically isotropic. Elastic constants and dielectric properties of larger size samples (50 mm diameter x 25 mm thick, developed at the Phase II stage) will be measured by ultrasonic pulse echo technique and compared with the data obtained from the small samples (~ 2 mm cube) measured by resonant ultrasound spectroscopy (RUS). Phase II effort also includes investigating the killer applications of these unique single crystals and commercializing them such as (1) providing the critical technical data for studying the materials in extreme dynamic environments (such as transparent armors), (2) broadband, high strength optical windows and domes, (3) high power electronic substrates, and (4) robust, broad temperature range actuators and sensors.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.65K | Year: 2010

The primary objective of this proposed research effort is to develop an innovative active photonic metamaterials, which will have extraordinarily large equivalent nonlinear transmission behavior (i.e., the stronger the incoming the light, the larger the attenuation coefficient will be). Thus, a novel all-optical (or called passive) optical switch that has unprecedented performance can be achieved, which offers the following unique capabilities: (1) extremely broadband operation (e.g., 0.4 – 3.0 microns), (2) polarization independent operation, (3) a high blocking rate (OD 3 or better), (4) a high linear transmission (better than 50%) over a broad bandwidth (0.4 – 3.0 microns), and (5) a fast response time (~ ns). A proof-of-concept feasibility study will be conducted at the Phase I stage, which includes (1) synthesizing the proposed active photonic metamaterials with an aperture size (1 square millimeter or larger), and (2) fabricating a proof-of-concept all-optical switch using the synthesized metamaterials, (3) testing and evaluating the performances of the switching (including the bandwidth, the switching speed, the extinction ratio, et al). At the Phase II stage, we will develop the production-scalable process to fabricate the ready-to-use prototype of the proposed optical switch device based on the accomplishments of the Phase I effort. BENEFIT: The successful completion of this proposed research effort represents a major technology breakthrough in the area of optical switches because it can offer such an extremely broadband operation from visible to infrared (IR). It will have a great impact on both the military applications (such as adaptive optics, laser communications, optical/spatial image filtration, et al) and civilian applications (such as telecommunications, biological imaging, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, et al).

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