Nanohmics is developing a high-performance imaging spectropolarimeter with low size, weight, and power (SWaP), based on an ultrathin, light-weight, microfabricated multifunction meta-optic. Low-aberration meta-optics are ideal for sensors in SWaP-constrained vehicles. Nanohmics’ spectropolarimeter combines a single multifunction meta-optic with a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) focal plane array (FPA). It collects polarization, spectral, and one-dimensional (1D) imaging data simultaneously at a high frame rate with hyperspectral resolution. In the Phase I, the team successfully demonstrated a breadboard spectropolarimeter based on a multifunction meta-optic that can focus short-wave IR (SWIR) light while analyzing both spectrum and polarization. In Phase II, the team will advance the breadboard to a prototype through ruggedization, laboratory testing, and airborne testing. Phase II will include a scaled-up multifunction meta-optic for increased resolution and light collection. The Phase II prototype is designed to have a larger imaging field of view (FoV). With a mass and volume approximately 1/10 that of existing spectropolarimeters, the low-SWaP, high-performance prototype will be well suited to suborbital and ultimately space missions. The Phase II prototype will operate in a NIR subband to survey the oxygen A and B absorption bands commonly used for measurements of atmospheric aerosols. The rugged prototype will advance to TRL 5 and be delivered to NASA, with initial potential for remote sensing of Earth atmosphere for climate modeling. The proposed compact sensor is ideal for measurements of spectrally resolved atmospheric aerosol absorption and scattering – initially in the near-infrared (NIR) and SWIR bands but easily extensible to other spectral bands such as visible (VIS), mid-wave IR (MWIR), and long-wave IR (LWIR). Meta-optic fabrication using standard CMOS microfabrication techniques will reduce costs and provide a rapid route to commercialization.
The low SWaP of the proposed spectropolarimeter will be well suited for orbital and low-cost suborbital monitoring for NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD) and Science Mission Directorate (SMD), including for atmospheric composition monitoring, such as for remote sensing of Earth atmosphere for climate modeling. Longer term, the team proposes integration into a range of instruments for NASA ESD data collection and SMD Earth and Solar System missions, including CubeSats, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), and other SWaP-constrained vehicles.
The high performance, low SWaP, and low cost of the proposed hyperspectral spectropolarimeter will drive applications in the military, industrial, energy, medical, agriculture, and consumer sectors. Applications include autonomous vehicles, security, robotics, land management, and monitoring of gas emissions related to petroleum and chemical production and waste management and water treatment.