31 August 2005 Compact 4 cm aperture transmissive liquid crystal optical phased array for free-space optical communications
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There is a critical need for high bandwidth, high availability free-space optical communication links between the battlefield and the global information grid. Compact large aperture transceivers with low size, weight and power (SWaP) are needed to initiate and maintain communication links involving airborne platforms. The transceiver optical beam director typically contains fine and coarse steering stages. Existing beam director technology is based on electro-mechanical gimbaled mirrors with large SWaP that hinders deployment on many airborne platforms. To address the need for compact beam directors, we designed, fabricated, and tested an optical phased array (OPA) based on electro-optic dual frequency liquid crystal technology. This OPA has a transmissive architecture that enables a lower system SWaP, as compared to conventional reflective OPA. It has an 8 μm pixel pitch and steers over a 2.5° field of regard in one dimension at 1.55 μm. Two such OPAs can be stacked to steer in two dimensions. It has four independently addressable 1 cm x 4 cm regions arranged in a linear array to produce a continuous 4 cm x 4 cm aperture. The device incorporates novel addressing schemes to reduce the number of control channels by over an order of magnitude compared to conventional OPA addressing methods. It also utilizes proprietary low-loss transparent conductive TransconTM film for low optical absorption in the infrared. The OPA uses a custom multi-channel controller circuit operating at a 500 Hz frame rate. We present results on OPA design, fabrication, and optical performance on steering.
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Yu-Hua Lin, Yu-Hua Lin, Milind Mahajan, Milind Mahajan, Donald Taber, Donald Taber, Bing Wen, Bing Wen, Bruce Winker, Bruce Winker, } "Compact 4 cm aperture transmissive liquid crystal optical phased array for free-space optical communications", Proc. SPIE 5892, Free-Space Laser Communications V, 58920C (31 August 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.618093; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.618093

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