Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Photonics, Optics and Lasers

Science and technology dealing with the transmission and manipulation of light

Showing 76 results for Photonics RSS
A unique class of engineered light-manipulating materials, known as metamaterials or structured materials, makes use of patterns of strongly interacting wavelength or sub-wavelength-sized elements. Because of these intricate internal and surface structures, new properties have emerged, some exhibiting behavior that has resulted in rewriting long-understood “laws” for how light and other electromagnetic (EM) waves interact with materials. These materials have been opening up new options for controlling EM waves in many technological arenas, among them imaging, thermal control, and frequency conversion. Specific applications include night-vision, heat reflection and management in aircraft engines, and temperature regulation of electronics on satellites in the hot-and-cold extremes of space.
Only a few decades ago, finding a particular channel on the radio or television meant dialing a knob by hand, making small tweaks and adjustments to hone in on the right signal. Of course, we now take such fine tuning for granted, simply pressing a button to achieve the same effect. This convenience is enabled by radio frequency synthesis, the generation of accurate signal frequencies from a single reference oscillator.
Parallelism – or the act of several processors simultaneously executing on an application or computation – has been increasingly embraced by the microelectronics industry as a way of sustaining demand for increased system performance. Today, parallel computing architectures have become pervasive across all application domains and system scales – from multicore processing units in consumer devices to high-performance computing in DoD systems.
Lasers are essential to many fields – ranging from optical communications and remote sensing, to manufacturing and medicine. While the semiconductor laser was first demonstrated nearly 60 years ago, advances in diode lasers and access to semiconductor fabrication techniques have enabled continued innovation and miniaturization of the technology. Photonic integrated circuits (PICs), which combine many photonic elements onto a single chip, have also transformed the way lasers and other optical systems are engineered, creating improvements in size, weight, and power (SWaP), system performance, and enabling new functionality. Despite these advances, a number of obstacles still hamper the proliferation of optical systems for defense and commercial applications.
Autonomous and semi-autonomous systems need active illumination to navigate at night or underground. Switching on visible headlights or some other emitting system like lidar, however, has a significant drawback: It allows adversaries to detect a vehicle’s presence, in some cases from long distances away.