The goal of this program is to develop high performance, high speed, integrated optical switches for applications requiring the switching of four lasers into one PM fiber. These switches will be of small size and weight given that they will be fabricated as a Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) and will be designed to meet the following target specifications:
The optical switch will be based on Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) and a passive combiner. The SOA has in previous demonstrations been proven to meet the target speed, gain and contrast requirements of this effort.
NASA applications include instruments for accurate measurements of atmospheric water vapor using the differential absorption lidar (DIAL) technique which continue to be developed by NASA toward a sensor that would be suitable for autonomous, long-term measurements of water-vapor in a national scale network. Sensing of water vapor is a primary application target. Methane is a secondary target, while other atmospheric gases are of potential interest in the extension.
Switched LIDAR systems are being developed by other government agencies including the Air Force. Dual use applications exists in emerging atomic sensing systems, in particular the need for development of compact integrated switches to support emerging miniaturized Alkali cold-atom sensing systems in the 600-800nm range. Commercial applications include optical communications where fast dynamic switching increasingly become a key enabler for dynamic optical networks.