Depscor-95 Agile Optical Phased Arrays for Microspacecraft
Final rept. 1 Jun 1996-30 Nov 1999
ALABAMA UNIV IN HUNTSVILLE DEPT OF ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING
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The introduction of ultrafast technology into space offers novel opportunities. Agile optical phased arrays that allow rapid forming and redirection of high average power beams with little or no mechanical movement are especially interesting. Recent advances in semiconductor and optical fiber lasers suggest lightweight compact optical phased arrays suitable for microspacecraft are feasible. Double clad fiber offers an opportunity to provide average powers of order ten watts in single mode fibers. Modelocked laser technology we are now addressing provides means for combining these high average power single mode lasers into phased arrays. Related photonic band gap research we are pursuing identifies an approach we believe will provide opto-electronically controlled true time delays for the array elements. We propose to develop this technology and test the results in space missions. Agile optical phased arrays with the average power, spatial resolution, and high data rate suitable for an advanced global information network based on microsatellites would have an extraordinary impact on military capability. We combine our ongoing work on ultrafast technology with an earlier DEPSCoR funded program in microsatellites, both at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, to explore this possibility. We leverage this effort with existing investments, relationships with strong research partners, and the favorable location of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. We are consequently able to offer a program of national significance for relatively modest cost.
- Fiber Optics and Integrated Optics