Large-Aperture Multiple Quantum Well Modulating Retroreflector for Free-Space Optical Data Transfer on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC
Pagination or Media Count:
We describe progress in the development of a multiple quantum well modulating retroreflectors including a description of recent demonstrations of an infrared data link between a small rotary-wing unmanned airborne vehicle and a ground-based laser interrogator using the device designed and fabricated at the Naval Research Laboratory NRL. Modulating retroreflector systems couple an optical retroreflector, such as a corner cube, and an electro-optic shutter to allow two-way optical communications using a laser telescope and pointer-tracker on only one platform. The NRL modulating retroreflector uses a semiconductor-based multiple quantum well shutter capable of modulation rates greater than 10 Mbps depending on link characteristics. The technology enables the use of near-infrared frequencies, which is well known to provide covert communications immune to frequency allocation problems. This specific device has the added advantage of being compact, lightweight, covert, and requires very low paper. Up to an order of magnitude in onboard power can be saved using a small array of these devices instead of the radio frequency equivalent. In the described demonstration a Mbps optical link to an unmanned aerial vehicle in flight at a range of 100 to 200 feet is shown. Near real-time compressed video was also demonstrated at the Mbps level and is described.
- Quantum Theory and Relativity
- Pilotless Aircraft