DARPA looks to HRL Laboratories to develop photonic signal processor

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., has awarded a $1.5 million contract to HRL Laboratories LLC in Malibu, Calif., to develop the photonic analog signal-processing engines with reconfigurability—otherwise known as PhASER.

MALIBU, Calif.—The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., has awarded a $1.5 million contract to HRL Laboratories LLC in Malibu, Calif., to develop the photonic analog signal-processing engines with reconfigurability—otherwise known as PhASER.

The PhASER program was established to address the U.S. Department of Defense’s growing need for ultra-wideband signal-processing capabilities that will help reduce the size, weight, and power consumption of the processor.

In the PhASER program, HRL proposes to demonstrate a programmable radio-frequency photonic filter, called the unit cell, which will serve as a building block for higher order filters in the form of a photonic integrated circuit (PIC). The developed PhASER PIC will enable rapidly reconfigurable analog filtering and support in addition to a high dynamic range in a variety of ultra-wideband microwave receivers.

“The HRL unit cell will be composed of tunable microresonators that are optically coupled to an underlying mesh of integrated silica waveguides,” says Willie Ng, manager of HRL’s photonics department. “This will allow arraying in two dimensions so that radio-frequency signals modulated onto optical carriers can be channeled into narrow ‘passbands’ via the implementation of cascaded unit cells.”

HRL scientists plan to demonstrate a chip-scale, high-resolution frequency channelization capability as part of its PhASER program.

The program goal is to develop integrated photonic technologies that can improve conventional digital signal-processing approaches via demonstrations of a high signal-processing throughput, a fast reconfiguration speed, and good dynamic range, along with reduced processor size, weight, and power consumption.

For more information, contact HRL Laboratories online at www.hrl.com.

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