15 March 2016 Two dimensional thermo-optic beam steering using a silicon photonic optical phased array
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Abstract
Components for free space optical communication terminals such as lasers, amplifiers, and receivers have all seen substantial reduction in both size and power consumption over the past several decades. However, pointing systems, such as fast steering mirrors and gimbals, have remained large, slow and power-hungry. Optical phased arrays provide a possible solution for non-mechanical beam steering devices that can be compact and lower in power. Silicon photonics is a promising technology for phased arrays because it has the potential to scale to many elements and may be compatible with CMOS technology thereby enabling batch fabrication. For most free space optical communication applications, two-dimensional beam steering is needed. To date, silicon photonic phased arrays have achieved two-dimensional steering by combining thermo-optic steering, in-plane, with wavelength tuning by means of an output grating to give angular tuning, out-of-plane. While this architecture might work for certain static communication links, it would be difficult to implement for moving platforms. Other approaches have required N2 controls for an NxN element phased array, which leads to complexity. Hence, in this work we demonstrate steering using the thermo-optic effect for both dimensions with a simplified steering mechanism requiring only two control signals, one for each steering dimension.
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Rita Mahon, Rita Mahon, Marcel W. Preussner, Marcel W. Preussner, William S. Rabinovich, William S. Rabinovich, Peter G. Goetz, Peter G. Goetz, Dmitry A. Kozak, Dmitry A. Kozak, Mike S. Ferraro, Mike S. Ferraro, James L. Murphy, James L. Murphy, "Two dimensional thermo-optic beam steering using a silicon photonic optical phased array", Proc. SPIE 9739, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVIII, 97390R (15 March 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2212724; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2212724
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