NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II E1.02-8892 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023107 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Active Optical
PROPOSAL TITLE: Quantum-Cascade-Laser-Seeded OPO for DIAL

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN: (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Q-Peak, Inc.
135 South Road
Bedford , MA   01730 - 2307
(781 ) 275 - 9535

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Glen Rines
135 South Road
Bedford , MA   01730 - 2307
(781 ) 275 - 9535

We propose to develop an all-solid-state, laser-based source that covers the 2.5- to 14-micron band and is suitable for use in airborne and space-based differential absorption lidar (DIAL) systems. The proposed DIAL transmitter would enable high-resolution, high-accuracy remote sensing of atmospheric molecular species of interest to NASA including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide as well as many others.
The proposed project would yield a deliverable laboratory-level system comprised of a diode-laser-pumped, Q-switched, 2-micron laser, which pumps a middle-wave-infrared (MWIR) optical parametric oscillator (OPO), that is injection-seeded with a quantum cascade laser (QCL) to provide a narrow linewidth.
The primary innovation is the use of recently developed distributed feedback (DFB) QCLs to injection-seed a MWIR OPO for the purpose of obtaining narrow linewidth, high-pulse-energy operation in a compact, simple configuration. A secondary innovation is the specific selection of other critical system components that make the overall system suitable for airborne and space-based instrumentation. These include the all-solid-state 2-micron pump laser and the MWIR OPO, which can be constructed with either zinc germanium phosphide (ZGP) or cadmium selenide (CdSe) depending on the wavelength coverage desired.

NASA applications of the technology are related to the Earth Science Enterprise, specifically for aircraft- or space-based measurements of the profile of atmospheric gases that will allow better understanding of global climate changes and the human impact on the atmosphere. The species include common greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, as well as a wide variety of gases that play a role in atmospheric chemistry. Of these gases, the majority exhibit infrared absorption connected with the vibration-rotation features of the gas molecule, and this can be sensed using DIAL techniques. The narrow-linewidth, seeded OPO design proposed here can produce wavelengths in the two atmospheric windows (3-5 and 8-12 ?Ym) available for sensing, and thus can be used in a number of NASA remote-sensing systems operating from both aircraft and space-based platforms. Since the OPO technology is driven by a 2-?Ym Ho:YLF laser, it leverages the high-energy laser technology developed at NASA Langley for wind-sensing into a wide range of species-sensing applications.
An additional application of the technology would be in coherent wind-sensing systems based on Ho:YLF lasers, also part of the Earth Science Enterprise. The proposed work will advance the technology of high-energy, resonantly pumped Ho:YLF lasers, and data developed in the effort will be of significance to the existing NASA Langley-centered program in that area.

A commercial product applications include:
1. Fence-line monitors at industrial sites, needed to meet Clean Air Act requirements. Problems have been encountered with FTIR systems now used such as lack of sensitivity to meet regulations for many gases and interference from water vapor, which is difficult to correct due to the limited resolution of the FTIR. A broadly tunable, narrow-linewidth IR source based on an OPO /multi-QCL combination could be an alternative to the FTIR system, and solve the operational difficulties now encountered.
2. Systems for determination of air pollution in urban and industrial areas from automobiles and industrial processes, including both criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases.
3. Systems for homeland security, such as continuous monitoring of urban air or entry points for the presence of chemical agents and explosive devices.
4. Systems for military applications, including long-range detection of chemical agents. Another example is chemical detection systems flown on UAVs. These systems would have strategic application in determining whether a country is developing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction. Tactical applications include monitoring of battlefield conditions and wide-area monitoring of fixed assets such as military bases against chemical-warfare attacks.
5. Systems for scientific investigations, including basic spectroscopy and dynamics of molecules, liquids and solids.

Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34