NASA SBIR 2018-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 18-1- S1.01-8783
 Lidar Remote Sensing Technologies
 Monolithically Integrated TCC VCSELs with Surface-Normal 2D Slow-Light PC Waveguide Arrays
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Omega Optics, Inc.
8500 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Building 4, Suite 200
Austin , TX 78757-7591
(512) 996-8833

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Hamed Dalir
8500 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Building 4, Suite 200 Austin, TX 78757 - 7591
(510) 384-1283

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Gloria Chen
8500 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Building 4, Suite 200 Austin, TX 78757 - 7591
(512) 996-8833
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 2
End: 4
Technical Abstract

In this proposal, Dr. Dalir from Omega Optics Inc. (OO), in collaboration with University of Texas (UT) at Austin and the George Washington University propose a novel 2D TCC-VCSEL arrays monolithically integrated with a surface-normal slow-light photonic crystal (PC) waveguide array that are vertically built in one lithography layer.  Unlike conventional thinking where the waveguides in a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) are always built parallel to the substrate, which will require 64 lithographically defined waveguide layers to provide a 64×64 phase array. Due to the slow light effect, this system provides the required phase shift larger than liquid crystal with 30 µm interaction length while maintaining the pixel (emitter) to pixel separation small enough to cover the total field of view (FOV) of 180˚× 180˚, and the instantaneous field of view of 0.05˚.This will significantly increase the yield rate to the final targeted 98% since we have only one primarily defined lithography layer rather than a 64-layer approach without sacrificing the performance metrics.  The steering of the laser beam can be realized through two different means: (1) electro-optically controlled through carrier perturbation or refilling the hole with EO polymer and (2) through thermal tuning which provides the needed phase shift of each element with the sweeping speed of >100 KHz. The key claims are the following:
1. Engineering the PC waveguide slow light device where the group index perturbation Δng can be significantly increased to 170-200, which will provide a much shorter waveguide length needed to steer the beam. 
2. The unequally spaced design is capable of providing the side-lobe suppression up to 35 and 50 dB, respectively as required in phase I and phase II.  This achievement is due to the design of non-overlapping sidelobes and the unequally coupled optical intensity of each element created by each subarray while maintaining a single steerable peak with the required IFOV and TFOV.


Potential NASA Applications

Our proposed device is useful for one main NASA application:

- It also can be used for novel space LIDAR technologies that use small and high-efficiency diode lasers to measure range and surface reflectance of asteroids and comets from >100 km altitude during mapping to <1 m during landing and sample return with a size, weight, and power substantially less than 28×28×26 cm3, 0.1 kg, and 10 Watts out-put with one integrated device or 1 KWatts for arrays of 100 proposed devices.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

Our proposed device is particularly useful in many Non-NASA applications requiring ultra-sensitive and standalone, including:

- Laser Marking,

- Cutting and Welding,

- Materials Processing,

- High Power Spectroscopy,

- Non-Linear Optics,

- Laser Surgery (including cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, tattoo removal, kidney stones),


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