NASA STTR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 T4.02-9913
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Space Science Sensors and Instruments
PROPOSAL TITLE: Novel Tunable Dye Laser for Lidar Detection
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (SBC) RESEARCH INSTITUTION (RI)
NAME:SCIENTIFIC SOLUTIONS INC. NAME:Brown University
ADDRESS:55 Middlesex street ADDRESS:164 Angell street
CITY:North Chelmsford CITY:Providence
STATE/ZIP:MA01863-1561 STATE/ZIP:RI02912-1929
PHONE:(978)251-4554 PHONE:(401)863-1805

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Hailiang Zhang
zhang@sci-sol.com



TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
A tunable dye laser for Lidar detection will be fabricated based on the innovative dye-doped Holographic Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals (HPDLC) technology. The demonstration of the tunable lasing of dye-doped holographic polymer dispersed liquid crystal is the main focus during the Phase-I research, while the commercial tunable-laser product will be realized in Phase-II.

By carefully choosing the materials including liquid crystal, UV-polymerizable monomer, emitter dye and optimizing the holographic-writing process, dye-doped HPDLC is formed as an one-dimensional photonic bandgap material, Mirrorless Lasing in the dye-doped HPDLC occurs at the reflection band edges. Applied voltage tunes the reflection peak of the HPDLC as well as the center wavelength of emitting laser. The whole laser device is solid state and highly resistant to shock and vibration as it has no moving parts. Since the innovative laser device is based on the thin film technology, there is no bulky laser cavity and the cost of the HPDLC thin films are low due to easy-to-achieve large scale manufacturing. The unit price of the HPDLC thin film can be so low that it is economical to throw away and replace a HPDLC thin film device once the dye reaches the end of its life.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
This innovative tunable laser has applications in LIDAR, atmospheric sensing and planetary exploration when wavelength agility is required. The proposed tunable laser is especially useful for on-orbit LIDAR systems, either as a seed laser for a more powerful laser or as a primary laser when replicated in a stack, for example mapping planetary surfaces because of its great advantage of small size, low weight and shock/vibration resistance. Such a small laser could be used on surface rovers enabling surface Raman spectroscopy and LADAR mapping.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The proposed tunable laser also has application in hyper-spectral medical imaging and bio-imaging where different color signals the biochemical makeup of different regions of tissue, nuclei, cytoplasm, etc. Additionally this laser can be used to create inexpensive and perhaps disposable Raman sensors and imagers for use in the biological, medical and chemical sensing markets. In addition, this innovative tunable laser will bring a great improvement in high quality laser display with merits of high color purity and high light intensity. Its role as a tunable signal source in optical communication such as Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) is another commercial application.