Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Photonics, Optics and Lasers

Science and technology dealing with the transmission and manipulation of light

Showing 21 results for Photonics + Spectrum RSS
The process of detecting light—whether with our eyes, cameras or other devices—is at the heart of a wide range of civilian and military applications, including light or laser detection and ranging (LIDAR or LADAR), photography, astronomy, quantum information processing, medical imaging, microscopy and communications. But even the most advanced detectors of photons—the massless, ghostlike packets of energy that are the fundamental units of light—are imperfect, limiting their effectiveness. Scientists suspect that the performance of light-based applications could improve by orders of magnitude if they could get beyond conventional photon detector designs—perhaps even to the point of being able to identify each and every photon relevant to a given application.
Many essential military capabilities—including autonomous navigation, chemical-biological sensing, precision targeting and communications—increasingly rely upon laser-scanning technologies such as LIDAR (think radar that uses light instead of radio waves). These technologies provide amazing high-resolution information at long ranges but have a common Achilles heel: They require mechanical assemblies to sweep the laser back and forth. These large, slow opto-mechanical systems are both temperature- and impact-sensitive and often cost tens of thousands of dollars each—all factors that limit widespread adoption of current technologies for military and commercial use.
At the end of 2013, the United Nations General Assembly designated 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). And what could be more worthy of celebration than light?
Nothing is more iconic of today’s high technology than the semiconductor chips inside our computers, phones, military systems, household appliances, fitness monitors, and even birthday cards and pets. Since its inception in 1992, DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has helped create and prevent strategic surprise through investments in compact microelectronic components, such as microprocessors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and photonic devices. MTO’s pioneering efforts to apply advanced capabilities in areas such as wide-band-gap materials, phased array radars, high-energy lasers, and infrared imaging, have helped the United States establish and maintain technological superiority for more than two decades.
DARPA published its Young Faculty Award (YFA) 2018 Research Announcement today, seeking proposals in 26 different topic areas—the largest number of YFA research areas ever solicited.