OEwaves Inc. offers to develop and demonstrate a high-performance miniature photonic oscillator  suitable for delivering spectrally pure W-band signals. The device will be based on ultra-narrow line self-injection locked lasers and will operate as a local oscillator (LO) in cloud radar front end, and other high frequency systems including radio astronomy, spectroscopy, and communication systems where achieving higher performance is limited by the oscillator noise. The photonic oscillator proposed here is based on integration of an ultra-high quality (Q) crystalline whispering gallery mode (WGM) microresonator [2-4] with multiple photonic and microelectronic components and devices (including lasers, a detector, and waveguides) to produce signals with spectral purity exceeding that of conventional oscillators. This architecture will be implemented on a single platform with micrometer-scale feature sizes. The oscillator will produce 10 mW of output RF power in W-band, and its single sideband (SSB) power spectral density of phase noise will be as low as -10 dBc/Hz at 10 Hz and -160 dBc at 10 MHz and higher Fourier frequencies. This is at least an order of magnitude better than the state of the art for the systems of comparable size, weight and power. The primary carrier frequency to be demonstrated is 96 GHz, along with the capability to operate at any frequency in the range of 92-100 GHz. The photonic LO can be phase locked (PL) to an external reference oscillator. Advanced NASA applications require microwave and mm-wave frequency oscillators generating spectrally pure signals to eliminate the noise associated, for example, with compression of the received radar signals to increase the resolution. For airborne and spaceborne devices, the desired size is smaller than a quarter (25 cent coin), with power consumption significantly less than a Watt. Existing technologies cannot meet these requirements, so new and revolutionary approaches are necessary.
There is an increasing demand for radar systems with greater sensitivity, and communications systems with higher performance and wider bandwidth and at high frequency, at W-band and beyond. These sets of intersecting requirements represent compelling needs for NASA systems, yet cannot be met with conventional technologies. The present proposal is for demonstration of such capabilities with novel microresonator-based devices that will be used to support development of high sensitivity wide band W-band and G-band receivers and radars.
Civilian: air traffic control (ATC) radar; GPS systems; satellite video mobile arrays;
Military: phased array radar systems, including ship-based multi-functional phased arrays, large phased arrays for national ballistic missile defense, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and mobile arrays for battlefield and regional missile defense systems ECCM and SIGINT systems.