NASA has called for the development of light-weight metamaterials technology that allows antenna beam shaping, at all optical and microwave wavelengths using effective optical properties not found in nature. In response, Alphacore is proposing a meta-transmission line wave-space that will miniaturize a Rotman lens by a factor of 100, while retaining its time-delay properties. The Rotman lens is one of the simplest and most reliable low-cost multiple-beam phased array architectures used today. Alphacore’s novel design will include an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) with a 12-bit current-steering segmented-DAC. This innovation enables the use of the Rotman lens for HF, VHF, or UHF phased array applications, creating new capabilities in airborne and planetary exploration. Applications where there are critical gaps include beam forming for communication and Radar, angle-of-arrival detection, multiple beam jamming, and retroreflector jamming. All these are possible because the lens’ time-delay properties are derived from actual travel time within the lens, thus the Rotman lens is also by definition a broadband device in the frequency domain. Alphacore’s innovation is a hyper-compact Rotman lens based on a small ASIC to prototype of the wave-space in the Rotman lens configuration capable of driving beam-forming HF through UHF phased arrays. Alphacore’s use of meta-transmission lines will significantly affect a multitude of possible applications since the use of metamaterials allows for the technology to be precisely configured to manipulate specific wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum, thus offering excellent design flexibility and customization opportunity. Alphacore’s design also eliminates the need to carry an outboard or surface-mounted conventional array and therefore can be inserted into existing telescopes and antennas. The system will assist NASA to provide continued support for Earth-based facilities that use optical and radar telescopes.
NASA’s Habitable Exoplanet Observatory and the Lynx X-ray Observatory, Moon to Mars and Humans in Space directorates and Deep Space Network will benefit.
Earth-based facilities using optical and radar telescopes. Optical metamaterials to match impedance of free space that compensate for limiting UV properties of traditional materials used in NASA telescopes. Such facilities are Infrared Telescope Facility, the Keck Observatory, the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, Arecibo Observatory, and the Very Long Baseline Array.
US Army benefits from lens for battlefield sensors of communication systems & multimode radar ops. Lens design scales for next gen commercial wireless networks using nanocell networks, lens-based beamformer in electronically scanned arrays, miniature lumped components in mmWave spectrum. Future research directions include a compact 3D Rotman lens topology, enable azimuth and elevation beamforming.