DoD SBIR 23.3 BAA

Active
No
Status
Closed
Release Date
August 23rd, 2023
Open Date
September 20th, 2023
Due Date(s)
October 18th, 2023
Close Date
October 18th, 2023
Topic No.
AF233-0025

Topic

High bandwidth, low latency wavefront sensing for airborne directed energy applications

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2023

Summary

The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking proposals for a high bandwidth, low latency wavefront sensing technology for airborne directed energy applications. The technology should operate at or above 250 kHz, sample at least 20 points in both spatial directions, and have suitable dynamic range and sensitivity for airborne use. The wavefront sensor must be designed to operate in the near infrared and occupy a volume no larger than 216 in^3. The proposed concept should be proven by a prototype with follow-on build of a pilot system and demonstration within the laboratory environment. The technology has potential applications in long-range airborne high energy laser weapon systems, actively illuminated reconnaissance, and non-invasive flow measurements in wind tunnel environments. The project will be conducted in three phases: concept development, prototype design and testing, and commercial product transition. The deadline for proposal submission is October 18, 2023. For more information, visit the DoD SBIR 23.3 BAA solicitation notice on grants.gov.

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Directed Energy (DE)

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: The Air Force requires a wavefront sensing technology that has the capability of operating at or above 250 kHz. While operating at 250kHz the wavefront sensor must simultaneously sample at least 20 points in both spatial directions and have suitable dynamic range and sensitivity for airborne applications. The proposed wavefront sensor must be designed to operate in the near infrared. In addition, the wavefront sensor body must occupy a volume no larger than 216 in^3. An additional packaged electronics allocation with a volume no larger than 72 in^3 is permitted. The chosen concept is to be proven by prototype with follow-on build of pilot system and demonstration within the laboratory environment.

DESCRIPTION: The Air Force requires a wavefront sensing technology that has the capability of operating at very high bandwidth. This technology would enable long range airborne high energy laser weapon systems operating in tactical environments. For an aircraft in flight, the turbulent flow around the aircraft creates a complex time dependent density field. This complex time dependent density field changes the index of refraction near the aircraft. The dynamic index of refraction field distorts an outgoing laser and severely limits on target intensity. This reduction in intensity on target degrades system performance. The problem outlined above is the so-called aero-optics problem. One potential solution to the aero-optics problem would be the inclusion of higher order adaptive optics to compensate the phase distortions caused by the turbulent flow field. Unfortunately, It has been demonstrated that latency is a significant performance degrader for adaptive optics in airborne directed energy systems1, 2. Current state-of-the-art technology in wavefront sensing inhibits the use of higher order adaptive optics for the compensation of high frequency (spatial and temporal) content. Traditional approaches are limited to compensating only the pseudo-steady lensing effect caused by the turbulent flow field. This SBIR topic seeks the development of a wavefront sensing technology that meets the challenging performance, size, weight, and power requirements demanded by an airborne integration of a high energy laser system. The minimum operating threshold for the sampling frequency of this wavefront sensor is 250 kHz. If successful, this SBIR could provide an absolutely critical component needed for all airborne directed energy systems into the future. In the wider DoD such a sensor could provide very significant improvements over the state-of-the-art for actively illuminated reconnaissance applications. As for commercial applications, this device could provide unprecedented capabilities for non-invasive flow measurements in the wind tunnel environment. A market exists in the commercial space at research institutions and Universities interested in high speed flow measurement.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a high bandwidth wavefront sensor with an established path toward meeting frame rate, sensitivity, dynamic range, size, weight, and power requirements. Using appropriate modeling and simulation, establish the technical feasibility of the approach and establish estimates for bandwidth, dynamic range, sensitivity, size, and weight of the device. Furthermore, perform radiometric analysis establishing the feasibility of the wavefront sensor given current state-of-the-art specifications of laser illuminators. A sample of target requirements for this design are as follows: Bandwidth (threshold): 150 kHz Bandwidth (objective): 250 kHz Sensor Volume (threshold): 360 in^3 Sensor Volume (objective): 216 in^3 Electronics Volume(threshold): 108 in^3 Electronics Volume(objective): 72 in^3 Sensor Weight (threshold): 20 lbs Sensor Weight (objective): 15 lbs

PHASE II: Complete the design of a wavefront sensor prototype complete with any required electronics subsystem. The prototype wavefront sensor should present a clear engineering path toward the objective requirements outlined in the topic description if they are not explicitly met by the prototype. The prototype must be packaged in a state that would enable suitable laboratory testing. The wavefront sensor must be delivered to a DoD laboratory where it will be independently tested against a state-of-the-art Shack-Hartmann Wavefront Sensor. This testing will establish any improvement the new technology presents for the Air Force. A sample of target requirements for this prototype are as follows: Bandwidth (threshold): 150 kHz Bandwidth (objective): 250 kHz Sensor Volume (threshold): 360 in^3 Sensor Volume (objective): 216 in^3 Electronics Volume(threshold): 108 in^3 Electronics Volume(objective): 72 in^3 Sensor Weight (threshold): 20 lbs Sensor Weight (objective): 15 lbs

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III should focus on transitioning the prototype developed in Phase II to a commercial product. As such, the wavefront sensor should be packaged in a robust housing suitable for the flight environment. Any objective requirements not met in Phase II, should be met by the packaged Phase III pilot device. In addition, tooling and manufacturing processes required for commercialization shall be developed. Finally, the Air Force will assist the vendor in transitioning their compact high speed wavefront sensor to DoD wind tunnel facilities interested in performing aero-optic experiments. Additionally, a market exists to transition such high speed cameras to a multitude of University wind tunnel facilities interested in high speed flow dynamics. A sample of target requirements for this prototype are as follows: Bandwidth (threshold): 150 kHz Bandwidth (objective): 250 kHz Sensor Volume (threshold): 360 in^3 Sensor Volume (objective): 216 in^3 Electronics Volume(threshold): 108 in^3 Electronics Volume(objective): 72 in^3 Sensor Weight (threshold): 20 lbs Sensor Weight (objective): 15 lbs

REFERENCES:

  1. Burns, W. R. Statistical Learning Methods for Aero-Optic Wavefront Prediction and Adaptive-Optic Latency Compensation. https://doi.org/10.7274/gt54kk93q7k;
  2. W.R. Burns, E.J. Jumper and S. Gordeyev, " A Latency-Tolerant Architecture for Airborne Adaptive Optic Systems ", 53th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 5 - 9 Jan 2015, Kissimmee, Florida, AIAA Paper 2015-0679.

KEYWORDS: Wavefront Sensor; Aero-Optics; Directed Energy; Adaptive Optics; Beam Control