Quantum Cascade Laser Beacon for IFF Applications

Period of Performance: 07/22/2010 - 04/28/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Maxion Technologies, Inc.
6525 Belcrest Road, Suite 523
Hyattsville, MD 20782
Principal Investigator


The objective of this Phase I SBIR effort is to demonstrate high wall-plug efficiency (WPE) MWIR and LWIR Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) to enable a small, lightweight, and inexpensive battery-powered multi-spectral laser beacon for field use in identification, friend-or-foe determination, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) operations, and small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) for close air support missions. We will design, grow, fabricate and test a new QCL design optimized for high WPE based on incorporating recent performance advancements and new design methodologies. We will also provide MWIR and LWIR QCLs to the Air Force for use in field tests of prototype laser beacons. Based on real test data and the design of a battery power pulsed laser driver, we will develop a performance model for operation of a multi-spectral laser beacon as a function of pulse width, duty-cycle and temperature of operation. We will use the performance model to formulate laboratory and field tests and metrics that will account for the targeting pod and sensor sensitivities in close support and long-range sensing scenarios. BENEFIT: The successful realization of high-efficiency Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) will enable military and commercial Benefits. For example, hand-held field instruments such as MWIR/LWIR laser beacons and flashlights will be significant extensions of the state-of-the-art and enable enhanced capabilities and new synergies with MWIR/LWIR night vision technologies and enhanced covert operations capability. Commercially, high-efficiency QCLs enable numerous application such as sensitive, hand-held and portable chemical sensors for field use and long lifetime, low power footprint free-space optics modules.