NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 S1.01-9711
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lidar System Components
PROPOSAL TITLE: All-fiber components for micro-structured fibers

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aculight Corporation
22121 - 20th Avenue SE
Bothell, WA 98021 - 4408
(425) 482-1100

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John Minelly
22121 - 20th Avenue SE
Bothell, WA 98021 - 4408
(425) 482-1100

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3 to 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
We propose new concepts for developing components for high performance space based Lidar systems. While it is generally recognized that photonic crystal fiber technology can extend the performance range of fiber laser based sources these fibers are considered by many to be incompatible with complementary component technology such as fused couplers and pump combiners. Integration of these fibers into real systems for deployment either in space or terrestrial systems is hindered by the very structure which brings the advantage in effective area and nonlinearity mitigation. The problem is related to the air holes which provide guidance for both pump and signal. Our proposal centers not on developing sophisticated new component manufacturing techniques but rather on modifying the micro-structured gain fiber itself to retain the desirable advantages while eliminating the problems associated with component development. This can be achieved by use of only refractive index micro-structuring to create an all-solid structure with index control an order of magnitude better than direct deposition techniques. In the phase I program we will demonstrate an all solid micro-structured gain fiber with effective area >500┬Ám2, as well as showing the feasibility of fabricating compatible tap couplers and pump combiners.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
A number of planned NASA Remote Sensing Missions will include Active Sensors utilizing lasers. These missions include advanced Altimetry of the Earth Surface for Ice Sheets, Vegetation Biosphere, and other measurements. Atmospheric phenomena such as CO2, Methane and Water Vapor can also be measured using laser based lidars. These applications typically use pulsed, high-peak-power lasers to enable long range measurements from orbit. Despite the great availability of commercial components, there are some key components that need to be developed or optimized to be particularly suited for NASA's applications. These include advanced gain fibers to support high pulse-energy and peak-power pulses and associated coupler components to enable mechanically robust architectures. These innovations will help expand measurement capabilities to space borne or Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV's. Our program will help enable these missions through the continual advancement of laser technology to improve laser efficiency while maintaining brightness, spectral purity and reliability.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The work proposed in this program is considered as a stepping stone to scaling by at least an order of magnitude the performance of deployable fiber laser systems at high TRL level. While the targeted applications in this proposal are for space and high atmosphere Lidar systems the outcome is expected to feed into other areas requiring high peak power, or energy combined with excellent beam quality. Possible application areas include directed energy, frequency conversion, materials processing and active imaging. Aculight and many other organizations are actively pursuing laser development in these areas and will all benefit from the component development which reduces the differences in fiber handling, termination, splicing and tapering of microstructured fibers when compared to fibers made by direct chemical vapor deposition and conventional preform draw.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.


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