Aperture Synthesis Enabled by Fast Focal Plane Arrays

Period of Performance: 06/03/2014 - 03/02/2015

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Bridger Photonics, Inc.
2310 University Way, Bldg. 4-4 Array
Bozeman, MT 59715
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

ABSTRACT: There is a critical need for optical imagers that can achieve both extremely high resolution and a compact form factor for rapid and accurate target identification and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from airborne platforms. Under this effort, Bridger Photonics Inc. proposes to determine the feasibility of an unconventional imaging system that leverages fast focal plane arrays. Bridger s existing system design records information over an extended three dimensional Fourier data space and can utilize either distributed apertures, aperture motion or target motion to improve overall imaging resolution in any of the dimensions. Bridger will perform system modeling and hardware demonstrations by using the basic system design in three focus areas including: 1) using multiple transceivers for enhanced resolution and rapid Fourier fill, 2) using low coherence sources combined with the fast focal plane array in a novel sub-resolved Fourier telescopy configuration and 3) enhancing passive imagery by using digital corrections estimated when the active system is engaged. Bridger will down select successful approaches, provide a Phase II prototype design and determine its feasibility. Bridger would implement the prototype design during the Phase II effort, provide both indoor and outdoor testing of the device, and deliver the final hardware to the sponsor. BENEFIT: Under the proposed effort Bridger Photonics Inc. will develop an advanced distributed aperture imaging system with better spatial resolution than is possible with conventional imaging. The proposed system will provide a significant savings in size, weight and power and will be designed to fit within existing EO turret or sensor pods. Bridger s technology offers several critical competitive advantages including 1) Unparalleled resolution in three dimensions by enabling large synthetic apertures, 2) ultra-compact and robust form factor, and 3) rapid acquisition, processing and display times. With these competitive advantages, Bridger anticipates that it will be well positioned to capitalize on identified commercial and military markets. These markets include replacing specialized, high resolution optical sensors on existing airborne assets in the Air Force fleet, providing additional capability into platforms which use sensor balls or pods for attaching to unmanned drones, and providing a unique, ultra-low-profile high resolution imagers. The technology has appeal in commercial markets as well, where it can be used for improving the spatial resolution in metrology and manufacturing markets.