We are proposing to develop an integrated photonic chip for implementing a cascaded arrayed waveguide gratings (AWG) spectrometers on a Si3N4/SiO2 platform for use in the detection of exoplanets based on Precision Radial Velocity (PRV) method. In Phase I of this proposal, an integrated high spectral resolving power (R~150,000), high throughput (~25%) AWG spectrometer with multiple fiber inputs for simultaneous calibration on a Si3N4/SiO2 platform is proposed, which will be followed by a Phase II proposal for designing a flat focal field AWG spectrometer, with the focal signals of all wavelengths of operation focusing along a straight line, and for designing a polarization insensitive AWG for measuring the optical spectra of the star and the planet. Integration on a chip reduces the size, the weight, the cost, and increases the stability of astronomical spectrographs. An external calibration sources, like Optical Frequency Combs (OFCs), can be coupled to the AWG spectrometers through the additional fiber inputs to provide the broad spectral coverage and long-term (years) stability needed for extreme PRV detection of exoplanets.
A successful completion of Phases I and II would allow the Company to claim to have realized an integrated spectrometer. This would be a very compact instrument that can potentially be used in many NASA related projects. This can include missile defense, sensors, lidar, laser ranging, medical and health applications. The Company will pursue opportunities with NASA for infusion in future NASA missions (including exoplanet detection).
AWGs can be used to multiplex multiple channels on a single optical fiber at the transmitter and also be used to demultiplex them back into their individual channels at the receiver. AWGs are commonly used as optical multiplexers and demultiplexers in a Wavelength Division Multiplexed system. There are other areas of application such as signal processing, measurement, and sensing.