Multibeam Optical Head for Satellite Laser Communications

Period of Performance: 07/09/2003 - 07/09/2004


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc.
Principal Investigator


Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc. (BNS) proposes to use its expertise in liquid crystal optical phased arrays (OPAs) and spatial light modulators (SLMs) to investigate a novel optical head for space-based multibeam laser communications. The primary focus of the proposed effort will be to establish the feasibility of using a liquid crystal beam steering device in place of a gimbaled mirror to produce multiple beams for satellite communication links. The principle question regarding the feasibility of a satellite-based liquid crystal multibeam optical head is whether the liquid crystal modulator can withstand the radiation levels that satellite-borne devices are subjected to. During the proposed Phase I feasibility study we will investigate the radiation survivability of a liquid crystal spatial light modulator The technology proposed here offers the potential for improvements in the performance of free space optical communications links. The ability to address multiple nodes provides redundancy to ensure transmission and provides the broadcast advantage of multiple coverage with less likelihood of interference or intercept than RF. Possible commercial applications include the use of this technology for civilian satellite laser communications and free space optical links in general.