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4 October 2011 Nonmechanical beam steering using optical phased arrays
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Beam steering is an enabling technology for establishment of ad hoc communication links, directed energy for infrared countermeasures, and other in-theater defense applications. The development of nonmechanical beam steering techniques is driven by requirements for low size, weight, and power, and high slew rate, among others. The predominant beam steering technology currently in use relies on gimbal mounts, which are relatively large, heavy, and slow, and furthermore create drag on the airframes to which they are mounted. Nonmechanical techniques for beam steering are currently being introduced or refined, such as those based on liquid crystal spatial light modulators; however, drawbacks inherent to some of these approaches include narrow field of regard, low speed operation, and low optical efficiency. An attractive method that we explore is based on optical phased arrays, which has the potential to overcome the aforementioned issues associated with other mechanical and nonmechanical beam steering techniques. The optical array phase locks a number of coherent optical emitters in addition to applying arbitrary phase profiles across the array, thereby synthesizing beam shapes that can be steered and utilized for a diverse range of applications.
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Thomas E. Dillon, Christopher A. Schuetz, Richard D. Martin, Daniel G. Mackrides, Petersen F. Curt, James Bonnett, and Dennis W. Prather "Nonmechanical beam steering using optical phased arrays", Proc. SPIE 8184, Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks VIII, 81840F (4 October 2011);

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