DOD SBIR 24.2 Annual

Release Date
April 17th, 2024
Open Date
May 15th, 2024
Due Date(s)
June 12th, 2024
Close Date
June 12th, 2024
Topic No.


High-Power Digital Fiber Optic Transmitter Laser


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024


The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the development of a high-power digital fiber optic transmitter laser. The technology is intended for use in airborne military avionics, electro-optic communications, and electronic warfare systems. The goal is to increase bandwidth while reducing space, weight, and power requirements. The proposed transmitter must operate at up to 50 Gbps non-return-to-zero (NRZ) in the wavelength range of 850 nm to 1000 nm. It should be compatible with multimode optical fiber and maintain a bit error rate less than 1x10-12. The transmitter must also withstand harsh avionic environments and support a 12 dB link loss power budget. The project will be conducted in three phases: design and development, optimization and testing, and finalization and validation. The technology has dual-use applications in telecommunication systems, data centers, and campus networks. The deadline for proposal submission is June 12, 2024. For more information, visit the solicitation link: DOD SBIR 24.2 Annual.


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): FutureG; Integrated Sensing and Cyber


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop and package a high-power vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) and VCSEL transmitter optical subassembly capable of operating at up to 50 Giga Bits per Second (Gbps) non-return-to-zero (NRZ) in the wavelength range of 850 nm to 1000 nm.


DESCRIPTION: Current airborne military (mil-aero) core avionics, electro-optic (EO) communications, and electronic warfare (EW) systems require ever-increasing bandwidths while simultaneously demanding reductions in space, weight, and power (SWaP). The replacement of shielded twisted pair wire and coaxial cable with earlier generation, bandwidth-length product, multimode optical fiber has given increased immunity to electromagnetic interference, bandwidth, throughput, and a reduction in size and weight on aircraft. The effectiveness of these systems hinges on optical communication components that realize high-per-lane throughput, low latency, large-link budget, and are compatible with the harsh avionic environment.


In the future, data transmission rates of 100 Gbps and higher will be required. Substantial work has been done to realize data rates approaching this goal based on the use of multilevel signal coding, but multilevel signal encoding techniques trade off link budget and latency to achieve high-digital bandwidth. To be successful in the avionic application, existing NRZ signal coding with large-link budget and low latency must be maintained. Advances in optical transmitter designs are required that leverage novel laser technology, semiconductor process technology, circuit designs, architectures, and packaging and integration techniques. In particular, the avionic passive loss link budgets would benefit from higher power laser transmitters that are compatible with the current fiber infrastructure. Vertical Cavity Lasers have been widely deployed in the systems, but have limited optical power output. There are several approaches to increasing the available optical power, including multi aperture VCSELs and multijunction VCSELs. The focus of this SBIR topic is to increase the available power from a VCSEL to +10 dBm, while simultaneously operating across all of the environmental requirements.


The proposed avionic transmitter must operate across a -40°C to +95°C temperature range, and maintain performance upon exposure to typical naval air platform vibration, humidity, temperature, altitude, thermal shock, mechanical shock, and temperature cycling environments. The transmitter must support at minimum a 12 dB link loss power budget when paired with a receiver meeting similar environmental requirements, as well as applicable electro-optic performance restrictions. The transmitter must be compatible with receivers in the 850 nm–1000 nm band operating at greater than 50 Gbps NRZ and capable of operating with multimode 50 µm multimode optical fiber while maintaining a bit error rate less than 1x10-12.


The electrical input of the transmitter must be differential current mode logic with an equalization mechanism to allow transmission of the electrical output across at least 2 in. (5.08 cm) of board-level interconnect. The proposed transmitter design must be capable of being demonstrated to perform reliably over the stated environmental, functional, and performance requirements with an Objective aggregate data rate of 50 Gbps. A Threshold performance level of 25 Gbps would represent an attractive option for near-term system deployment in concert with available digital fiber optic transmitter technology.


PHASE I: Design and develop a high-speed and high-power VCSEL with optical output power of +10 dBm and bandwidth compatible with 50 Gbps NRZ signaling. Identify laser driver requirements for 50 Gbps NRZ operation. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.


PHASE II: Optimize the VCSEL, transmitter optical subassembly, and package designs. Build and test the transmitter circuit and packaged prototype to meet performance requirements. Characterize the transmitter over temperature, and perform highly accelerated life testing. If necessary, perform root cause analysis and remediate circuit and/or packaged transmitter failures. Deliver two packaged transmitter prototypes for 50 Gbps digital fiber optic communication link application.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Finalize the prototype transmitter laser design. Verify and validate the laser performance in an uncooled 50 Gbps fiber optic transmitter that operates from -40 °C to +95 °C. Perform environmental testing to increase technology readiness. Demonstrate additional laser wavelength options for the 850 nm to 1000 nm wavelength band. Develop manufacturing tooling and supply chain infrastructure to increase manufacturing readiness. Transition to applicable naval platforms.

Dual use applications include telecommunication systems, data centers, and campus networks.



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KEYWORDS: Laser; Transmitter; 50 Gb/sec; Multimode Fiber; Loss Budget; Non-Return-to-Zero Signaling