We propose performing ultrawideband RF spectrum analysis using spectral-hole-burning (SHB) crystals, which are crystal hosts lightly doped with rare earth ions such as Tm<sup>3+</sup> or Er<sup>3+</sup>. Cooling SHB crystals to cryogenic temperatures suppresses phonon broadening, narrowing the ions' homogeneous linewidths to <100 kHz; local inhomogeneities in the crystal lattice shift the individual ionic resonances such that they're distributed over a bandwidth of 20 GHz or in some structurally disordered crystals to up to 200 GHz. Illuminating an SHB crystal with a beam modulated with multiple RF sidebands digs spectral holes in the crystal's absorption profile that persist for the excited state lifetime, about 10 ms. The spectral holes are a negative image of the modulated beam's spectrum. We can determine the location of these spectral holes by probing the crystal with a chirped laser and measuring the transmitted intensity. The transmitted intensity is the double-sideband spectrum of the original illumination blurred by a 100 kHz Lorentzian and mapped into a time-varying signal. Scaling the time series associated with the transmitted intensity by the instantaneous chirp rate yields the spectrum of the original illumination. Postprocessing algorithms undo distortion due to swept laser nonuniformities and ringing induced by fast chirp beams, eliminating the need for long dwell times to resolve narrow spectral features. Because the read and write processes occur simultaneously, SHB spectrum analyzers can operate with unity probability of intercept over a bandwidth limited only by the inhomogeneous linewidth. These capabilities make SHB spectrum analyzers attractive alternates to other approaches to wideband spectrum analysis.
Broadband RF imaging by spatial Fourier beam-forming suffers from beam-squint. The compensation of this frequency dependent beam-steering requires true-time-delay multiple beam-forming or frequency-channelized beam-forming, substantially increasing system complexity. Real-time imaging using a wide bandwidth antenna array with a large number of elements is inevitably corrupted by beam-squint and is well beyond the capability of current or projected digital approaches. In this paper, we introduce a novel microwave imaging technique by use of the spectral selectivity of inhomogeneously broadened absorber (IBA) materials, which have tens of GHz bandwidth and sub-MHz spectral resolution, allowing real-time, high resolution, beam-squint compensated, broadband RF imaging. Our imager uses a self-calibrated optical Fourier processor for beam-forming, which allows rapid imaging without massive parallel digitization or RF receivers, and generates a squinted broadband image. We correct for the beam squint by capturing independent images at each resolvable spectral frequency in a cryogenically-cooled IBA crystal and then using a chirped laser to sequentially read out each spectral image with a synchronously scanned zoom lens to compensate for the frequency dependent magnification of beam squint. Preliminary experimental results for a 1-D broadband microwave imager are presented.
We propose a novel, wideband spectrum analyzer based on spectral hole burning (SHB) technology. SHB crystals contain rare earth ions doped into a host lattice, and are cooled to cryogenic temperatures to allow sub-MHz hole burning linewidths. The signal spectrum is recorded in an SHB crystal by illuminating the crystal with an optical beam modulated by the RF signal of interest. The signal's spectral components excite those rare earth ions whose resonance frequencies coincide with the spectral component frequencies, engraving the RF spectrum into the crystal's absorption profile. Probing this altered absorption profile with a low power, chirped laser while measuring the transmitted intensity results in a time-domain readout of the accumulated RF signal spectrum. The resolution of the spectrum analyzer is limited only by the homogeneous linewidth of the rare earth ions (< 1 MHz when the SHB crystal is cooled to cryogenic temperatures). The spectrum analyzer bandwidth is limited by the inhomogeneous linewidth and by the electro-optic modulator bandwidth, both of which can be > 20 GHz.
We propose, analyze, and demonstrate the use of a holographic method for cohering the output of a fiber tapped-delay-line (FTDL). We perform a theoretical examination of the phase-cohering process and show experimental results for an RF spectrum analyzer based on a phase-cohered FTDL that shows 50 MHz resolution and bandwidths in excess of 2 GHz. Phase-cohering holography can operate on thousands of fibers in parallel, enabling both fiber tapped-delay-lines and the coherent fiber remoting of optically-modulated RF signals from antenna arrays.