The most promising systems for implementing long range, high bandwidth, Free Space Optical Communication (FSOC) links for deep space missions rely on fiber-based transmitter architectures. While such systems offer benefits in power conversion efficiency, size, weight, and cost (SWaP-C), these systems generally lack modularity due to a lack of high power fiber connectors and switch gear. Due to the specialized equipment and training needed splice fiber components, this lack of modularity confounds the installation of fiber systems through various mechanical interfaces, and makes field repair of an integrated fiber system nearly impossible.
To address these issues, Q-Peak proposes to develop an environmentally insensitive, low insertion loss, expanded beam fiber connector with high average and peak power handling (>100W, and >100kW respectively). Q-Peak is well positioned to achieve such high levels of transmitted power by leveraging novel opto-mechanical technologies which were developed in a number of recent efforts to achieve similarly high power connectors for flight applications at both short and Mid-IR wavelengths.
Such a connector will widely benefit all sectors of the fiber laser industry. By enabling modular construction of laser subsystems, it will be possible to qualify high power fiber components ex-situ, thus drastically improving first-pass yields. For medical and industrial applications, a common laser source can be more easily paired with multiple tools. Such flexible use of laser sources will help to make laser technology more economically viable to a wider variety of industries.
This technology can be used in the assembly, testing, and integration of high power fiber laser systems for FSOC applications as in the solicitation. Other potential NASA applications are power distribution for laser tools and appliances, as used for cutting, welding, stripping, 3D printing, and other tasks by connecting tool to source using a fiber optic cable assembly. Power supplied remotely from the laser source through hermetic bulkhead fittings might find use in on-orbit and landed EVA environments.
Industrial, dental & medical lasers-Tool changing, source multiplexing
Directed energy-Field replaceable amplifiers, isolators, combiners, etc.
Missile defense-Source distribution thru airframe
Telecommunications-Power distribution in satellite bus in FSOC systems for satellite internet
Fiber laser manufacturing-Facilitate QC on low yield devices, Reduce time to market, Fiber device intercompatibility