Frequency Agile Millimeter Wave (MMW) Signal Generator
Navy SBIR FY2013.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2013.1
Topic No.: N131-080
Topic Title: Frequency Agile Millimeter Wave (MMW) Signal Generator
Proposal No.: N131-080-0640
Firm: Phase Sensitive Innovations
51 East Main Street
Suite 201
Newark, Delaware 19711
Contact: Richard Martin
Phone: (302) 456-9003
Abstract: PSI will leverage our extensive experience and unique capabilities in MMW photonics to design a compact, lightweight, frequency-agile MMW source combining wide, continuous, rapid tunability with superb phase noise and moderate output power. Such a source will have extensive commercial applications in next-generation wireless communications, as well as military applications including reconfigurable and covert communications and electronic warfare. Our photonic system multiplies and upconverts a low-noise, low-frequency reference signal onto an optical carrier (laser) using ultra-broadband electro-optic (EO) modulation. Modulation sidebands injection lock a second laser to a frequency offset from the first by a selectable multiple of the reference. EO modulation is both coherent and ultra-broadband, rendering the lasers mutually coherent, while oscillating at a widely tunable frequency separation. The locked lasers combine on a high-speed photodiode (PD), generating a beat tone at their frequency difference, eliminating optical phase noise. Our concept has been validated in benchtop experiments (Nature Photonics paper); in this effort we will design and specify requirements for an integrated module, based on a silicon-photonic circuit comprising laser cavities, waveguides, couplers, and filters; with hybrid III-V gain integration, packaged with a compact EO modulator, a surface-mounted photodetector, and voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) to provide the reference.
Benefits: MMW carrier frequencies will allow wireless communications links to achieve higher data rates, and their small wavelength enables high antenna gain from relatively small antenna structures. High data rates from compact transceivers will satisfy ever increasing demands for faster broadband communications in both commercial and military systems. The MMW spectrum spans regions of both high and low absorption, so a frequency agile signal source covering the entire spectrum would be multifunctional, able to operate in both a long-range directional point-to-point link configuration, as well as a short-range, covert local hotspot configuration. Agility also addresses the growing problem of spectrum congestion and regionally variable spectrum availability. Compared to current solutions, i.e. cumbersome combinations of multiple, narrowly tunable sources, the proposed signal source will offer reduced complexity and SWAP requirements, and hence reduced system costs.