Compact, Lightweight Payload for Covert Data Link using a Multiple Quantum Well Modulating Retro-Reflector on a Small Rotary-Wing Unmanned Airborne Vehicle
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC
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In this paper, we describe progress in the development of the NRL Multiple Quantum Well modulating retroreflector 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 NRL multiple quantum well modulating retro-reflector. Modulating retro-reflector systems couple an optical retro-reflector, 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 up to 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. The multiple quantum well modulating retro-reflector has the added advantage of being compact, lightweight, covert, and requires very low power. 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 a unmanned aerial vehicle in flight at a range of 100-200 feet is shown. Near real-time compressed video is also demonstrated at the Mbps level.
- Non-Radio Communications