STTR Phase I: Photonics Enabled Extreme Bandwidth Wireless Communications Spectrum Manager

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

S2 Corporation
2310 University Way Building 4-1
Bozeman, MT 59715
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Research Institution

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
501 East Saint Joseph Street
Rapid City, SD 57701
Institution POC


This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project aims to use and adapt a photonics based extreme bandwidth RF and Microwave spectrum analyzer as a real-time spectral manager for wireless communication systems. The approach is enabled by a spatial-spectral holographic based spectrum analyzer developed by the STTR team that can have instantaneous processing bandwidth of 40 GHz or greater while retaining with high spectral resolution and low latency (<<1 ms) output. This sensor hardware will be applied to wideband, real-time spectral management of wireless communications for operation in environments with new spectral access regulatory models. When combined with low latency digital processing, using specialized digital signal processing hardware such as field programmable gate arrays and appropriate databases and software, the system will allow continuous and simultaneous monitoring of all common wireless communication bands for rapid distribution of channel occupancy data. Project activities include: identifying the physical measurements and spectral signatures needed for wideband spectrum management, implementing specialized computer based algorithms to extract this information for real-time management, and investigating advanced spatial-spectral optical signal processing architectures to automatically recognize wireless signal characteristics such as modulation formats that are beyond the current power spectrum measurement capability. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes uses in commercial wireless communication systems, RF test and measurement, defense signal intelligence and communications, regulatory spectrum management, and navigation and geo-location applications. The first commercial impact is to enable dynamic identification and allocation of unused spectral resources in real time, in order to maximize the efficiency and increase the capacity of wireless networks. The large bandwidth and frequency scalability of the spatial-spectral sensor technology could assist the growth of emerging radio communication technologies in existing bands, and in emerging bands such as E-band. Additionally, this technology could assist governmental spectrum regulatory compliance enforcement, which could help to lead to changes in spectrum allocation policy. Increased wireless capacity will help to enhance access to broadband internet access, including to poor or rural areas, where the capital costs of implementing physical infrastructure like fiber optic lines is cost prohibitive (evidenced by the developing world's use of cellular phones over landlines). Beyond communications, RF monitoring has several applications ranging from electronic defense, to navigation and geo-location.