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Activity title

Advanced Mid-Infrared Laser Technology

Activity Reference

SET-294

Panel

Sensors & Electronics Technology

Security Classification

Other

Status

Proposed

Activity type

RTG

Start date

2020

End date

2023

Keywords

infrared countermeasures, Infrared lasers, nonlinear optics, remote sensing

Background

Mid-infrared lasers are needed for countermeasure systems against the next generation of missiles, as well as for active imaging and remote sensing of targets and threats. Lasers must be resistant to environmental variations, and sufficiently compact and conformable to fit on a variety of platforms, from ships and large transports to helicopters and ground vehicles. SET-170 and SET-224 have explored fiber lasers as an attractive technology for these applications, due to their robustness, reduced environmental sensitivity, and ease of thermal management. Bulk crystal and quantum cascade lasers, however, offer their own advantages, the former in higher pulse energies, the latter in compact size and efficiency. Ongoing developments in the field combined with the results of the previous task groups suggest directions for further collaborative research to enable mid-IR laser sources that are efficient, compact, and spectrally suited to critical military applications. Each Nation is responsible for financing its own personnel contributions, associated laboratory costs, travel, administrative costs, etc. Effort equivalent to around 1 person-year is expected from the participating nations throughout the duration of the TG. Nations may be required to contribute to the cost of experimental gain media and related test materials. Limited NATO funding (25K) is requested to support fabrication of experimental samples. These will be shared among panel members for proof-of-concept demonstrations and measurement of fundamental properties necessary for device optimization.

Objectives

The objective is to improve the power/energy, wavelength versatility, efficiency, ruggedness and simplicity of laser-based sources. Specific goals include: power/energy scaling of mid-IR sources; increasing spectral coverage, control, and tunability; improving mid-IR laser components; and identifying which laser-based approaches show greatest potential for addressing military applications. This new TG goes beyond the scope of its predecessors to include bulk crystal lasers, hybrid bulk/fiber systems, and frequency conversion devices, in addition to all-fiber designs. While the focus remains the 3-5 µm region, pump sources at shorter wavelengths will be considered, as will the potential of candidate approaches to generate longwave (8-12 µm) output.

Topics

(1) Direct laser sources: material characterization, modelling, device demonstration. (2) Nonlinear frequency conversion devices (?(2) or ?(3)) for broad continuous tunability or broad output spectrum: material characterization, modelling, device demonstration. (3) Mid-IR components and supporting technology: e.g. thermal management, increased damage threshold, anti-reflective surface treatments, spectral shaping techniques, fiber-based components.

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