We propose to develop a three-dimensional (3D) mid-infrared (mid-IR) Photonic Lantern (PL) based on femtosecond laser inscription (FLI) technology. FLI of PLs allows converting the atmospheric seeing-limited signals captured by the telescope into diffraction-limited signals. A linear arrangement of the single-mode outputs can be further realized to form the virtual input slit of a spectrograph. The inherent 3D nature, scalability, and the ability to integrate many on-chip functions make FLI an attractive fabrication technique for photonic integrated circuits (PIC), as opposed to the multi-step planar waveguide technologies relying on costly, large-scale microelectronics foundry techniques. The FLI of a 3D, 1x8, mid-infrared waveguide beam splitter and a 1x8 photonic lantern will be demonstrated during the project's Phase I and II period. Three technical objectives are defined: 1: Determine the optimum geometry for a 1x8 waveguide splitter. Objective. 2: Experimentally investigate the impact of laser parameters and WBS geometry on WBS performance. .and 3: Demonstrate a 1x8 waveguide beam splitter operating in the mid-infrared region. The ultimate goal of this proposal is to establish an FLI technology platform for fabricating integrated photonic circuits.
The FLI-based, low SWaP PIC technology will be useful for NASA in lidar receiver for new Earth Science measurements such as the detection of carbon monoxide, free-space laser communications, mid-infrared heterodyne spectroscopy, and astrophotonics for exoplanet detection. The non-NASA applications include spectroscopy, optical communications, medical and clinical research, quantum computing, quantum information, and quantum metrology.