Mid-Infrared Fiber-Optic Switch for IRCM Laser Applications

Period of Performance: 08/01/2006 - 05/31/2007

$100K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Irflex Corp.
300 Ringgold Industrial Parkway
Danville, VA 24540
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Sponsored Programs 0170
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Institution POC

Abstract

Current laser-based infrared countermeasure (IRCM) system integrates a mid-infrared laser with a pointer-tracker (P/T) as a mated pair. The full protection of tactical aircrafts requires six IRCM systems to cover all fields of attack. Today each mid-infrared laser for IRCM costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars, measures about 9 inches x 8 inches x 3 inches, and weighs approximately 10 lbs. The electric power supply for each laser has about the same size and weight, and each laser needs a separate cooling subsystem. The overall cost, volume and weight of current IRCM systems required for full aircraft protection are excessively large. The proposed work will demonstrate a fiber-optic switch device which permits a single centrally-located mid-infrared laser to be selectively routed to different P/T located around the aircraft via fiber-optic cables. This novel approach is consistent with achieving the required low insertion loss and high power capacity needed for typical IRCM applications. A unique solution is proposed to couple high power mid-infrared laser in chalcogenide glass fiber with minimum insertion loss.BENEFITS: The proposed work is targeted primarily for military applications and supports directly the advancement of the critical DoD IRCM laser systems to be used for both fixed- and rotary-wing platforms. The fiber-optic switch will permit a single centrally-located mid-infrared laser to be selectively routed to different P/T located around the aircraft via fiber-optic cables. This will enable significant cost, volume and weight reductions compared to current IRCM laser systems. Also the fiber-optic switch will be useful in chemical sensors and spectroscopic applications where measurements are made through mid-infrared fiber in remote and multiple locations. Furthermore the fiber-optic switch technology should find other applications in routing industrial mid-infrared lasers for marking, machining and welding.