Optoelectronics Briefs

March 1, 2006

DOD looks to Edmund Optics for optics manufacturing technology

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Edmund Optics in Barrington, N.J., won a $2.8 million ManTech contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop tools to produce complex conformal and advanced optical elements. Geared primarily at advances in precision glass molding technology, the goal is to create inexpensive tooling methods for low- and mid-volume lens production runs. Over the next two to three years the program will expand to include new methods for reducing assembly time of complex optical systems such as high-precision night vision and fire control systems, Edmund officials say. Edmund is working with the U.S. Army Benet Weapons Lab to manage the project at the Edmund Optics Advanced Optics Manufacturing Facility in Pennsburg, Pa. For more information contact Edmund Optics online at www.edmundoptics.com.

GIG-BE high-speed fiber-optic network up and running

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion project to connect defense and intelligence sites on a high-speed fiber-optic network-better known as the GIG-BE-has achieved full operational capability, effective last Dec. 20. The GIG-BE, developed under supervision of the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in Arlington, Va., connects about 85 defense and intelligence sites in the United States and Europe over an 800 gigabit-per-second optical network. “The GIG-BE program creates an optimized backbone similar to an interstate system where data traveling great distances can be moved at high speeds without bottlenecks,” says DISA Director Lt. Gen. Charles E. Croom, Jr. The GIG-BE will complement DOD’s existing network known as the Defense Information System Network (DISN). “You can think of the DISN as the interconnecting highways that let data flow efficiently to and from major paths. Together the DISN and GIG-BE form a single integrated network that allows information to flow quickly and efficiently across DOD,” Croom says. The new network is available to support critical command and control and intelligence organizations while simultaneously supporting the optimization of existing DOD communications infrastructure such as the DISN.

Army takes delivery of prototype shortwave IR cameras

Engineers at Sensors Unlimited Inc. in Princeton, N.J., delivered four high-sensitivity shortwave infrared camera prototypes for the Soldier Mobility and Rifle Targeting System (SMaRTS). The Sensors Unlimited SU320KTX cameras represent a new format that uses the company’s 320-by-240-pixel focal plane array commercially available in its SU320MX cameras. Sensors Unlimited designed the cameras together with experts at Kaiser Electro-Optics, a Rockwell Collins company in Carlsbad, Calif. The miniature prototype shortwave infrared imager is for use in day or nighttime operations. It offers high sensitivity for potential use on the SMaRTS helmet system from Kaiser Electro-Optics. The small detector and board also could be packaged as an imaging engine for other systems, Sensors Unlimited officials say. The packaging offers a custom lens with a 40-degree field of view. For more information contact Sensors Unlimited online at www.sensorsinc.com.

NASA performs million-mile space laser communications experiment

The NASA Messenger spacecraft, in the second year of a six-year voyage to Mercury, helped space agency officials with an experiment to send laser pulses between optical transceivers located millions of miles apart. The experiment, which sets a record for laser transmission in space, helps NASA officials demonstrate the ability to transmit fast streams of digital information between orbiting spacecraft, or between spacecraft and ground stations on Earth. The experiment last May used Messenger’s Mercury Laser Altimeter to exchange laser pulses with NASA’s Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory in Greenbelt, Md., while Messenger was about 15 million miles from Earth. The experiment, reported in January, marks the first successful back-and-forth exchange of laser signals between Earth and space.

DOD, Lockheed Martin, look to kSARIA for optical-fiber manufacturing technology

Officials of kSARIA Corp. in Lawrence, Mass., won a contract potentially worth $2 million from Lockheed Martin Corp. to expand the use of fiber-optic technology in mission-critical aeronautical, shipboard, and weapon systems applications. The contract uses funding from the Penn State Electro-Optics Center, and is sponsored by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command. Under the contract, kSARIA will increase the quality and efficiency of its end-to-end automated manufacturing technology for fiber-optic cables to reduce operator intervention during production while improving the quality of manufacturing and optical fiber performance. As part of these enhancements, kSARIA will upgrade the tooling of its automated platform to ensure new levels of inline process control and validation during production-resulting in a tighter quality-control band of completed fiber cable assemblies. For more information contact kSARIA online at www.ksaria.com.

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