PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy avionics researchers needed custom lasers to develop fiber-optic backplanes to for combat aircraft weapon-replaceable assemblies. They found their solution from Freedom Photonics LLC in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Officials of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced their intention last week to award a contract to Freedom Photonics for lasers that will enable them to replace copper backplanes with fiber-optic backplanes in weapon-replaceable assemblies.
Freedom Photonics electro-optics experts will provide custom lasers with sufficient bandwidth to enable the Navy to prepare fiber-optic backplanes for future advancements in computing that require extremely fast data rates with reduced size and weight. The amount of the upcoming contract has yet to be negotiated.
Navy researchers need these custom lasers to help them meet three goals:
-- demonstrate how high-speed digital fiber optics and wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) can help them replace traditional copper traces in relatively small spaces;
-- demonstrate how tunable lasers and multicore optical fibers could increase flexibility of integration at the card and backplane levels to help systems designers identify, route, and address signals based on the wavelength and spatial content of the light that transmits the data; and
-- build and test the board-to-backplane fiber-optic connector designs.
Navy avionics experts envision new avionics systems based on optical fiber technology to provide sufficient speed for next-generation data processing for demanding applications like electronic warfare (EW) signals intelligence (SIGINT), radar processing, and multisensor fusion.
Freedom Photonics specializes in photonic component technology based on indium phosphide (InP) and gallium arsenide (GaAs) compound semiconductor platforms, silicon-germanium (SiGe)-based silicon photonics, and planar lightwave waveguide platforms. These components are for optical modules and subsystems, which include in-house electronic-control circuitry and systems integration.
The company's proprietary photonics technologies are for high-performance single frequency lasers; high-power high-efficiency lasers; widely tunable lasers; photodetectors; semiconductor optical amplifiers; active and passive waveguide components; high-speed modulators; mode converters; high-speed switches; multiplexer/demultiplexers; and optical delay lines.
Freedom Photonics develops enabling technologies for sensing; fiber-optic and free-space optical communications; semiconductor lasers; photodetectors; and high performance photonic integrated circuits.
On the upcoming contract Freedom Photonics will do the work Santa Barbara, Calif., and at Patuxent River NAS, Md., and will have the lasers fully tuned and integrated into full designs no later than 29 May 2020.