HRL Awarded $1.5M to Develop Ultra-Wideband Integrated Photonic Signal-Processing Capabilities

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded HRL Laboratories, LLC, a $1.5-million contract to develop PhASER, or Photonic Analog Signal-Processing Engines with Reconfigurability.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded HRL Laboratories, LLC, a $1.5-million contract to develop PhASER, or Photonic Analog Signal-Processing Engines with Reconfigurability. The PhASER program was established to address the Department of Defense's growing need for ultra-wideband signal-processing capabilities that will lead to significant reductions in the size, weight, and power consumption of the processor.

In the PhASER program, HRL proposes to demonstrate a programmable radio-frequency photonic filter--called the "unit cell"--which will serve as a building block for higher order filters in the form of a photonic integrated circuit (PIC). The developed PhASER PIC will enable rapidly reconfigurable analog filtering and support in addition to a high dynamic range in a variety of ultra-wideband microwave receivers.

"The HRL unit cell will be composed of tunable microresonators that are optically coupled to an underlying mesh of integrated silica waveguides," said Willie Ng, Manager of HRL's Photonics Department. "This will allow arraying in two dimensions so that radio-frequency signals modulated onto optical carriers can be channeled into narrow 'passbands' via the implementation of cascaded unit cells."

HRL plans to demonstrate a chip-scale, high-resolution frequency channelization capability as part of its PhASER program. The program goal is to develop integrated photonic technologies that can significantly improve conventional digital signal-processing approaches via demonstrations of a higher signal-processing throughput, a faster reconfiguration speed, and a better dynamic range, along with reduced processor size, weight, and power consumption.        

HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California, is a corporate R&D laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC members, the U.S. government, and other commercial entities.

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Michele Durant
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