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Center Innovation Fund: GSFC CIF

Holographic Projection of Structured Beams of Light for Target Ranging, Remote Velocimetry, and Sample Acquisition

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Structuring the amplitude, phase and polarization profiles of a laser beam can endow the light with remarkable properties that create immediate opportunities for applications ranging from LIDAR to optical trapping.  This proposal seeks support to develop a programmable holographic projection and detection system that will make practical use of recent advances in the theory of vector beams of light to project non-diffracting laser modes with properties that are desirable for both long-range environmental sampling and LIDAR applications.  This will allow for the competitive merging of remote sensing, laser ranging, and sample collection in one next generation system that could be used to significantly increase value laser systems proposed for future NASA’s high profile remote sensing, ranging, and sample collection missions.

This proposal intends to take an already existing laser-based optical beam trapping system and perform guided research with it to eventually enable missions that will be able to remotely target samples and study them over extended distances. This would be accomplished by conducting fundamental research in the field of optical trapping that would primarily focus on increasing the range and quality of the trapping beam so it will be practical for a mission. On top of the trapping capability of the technology being researched, it has become clear that it is possible to use the same fundamental system for velocimetry and laser ranging applications.  By pursuing this IRAD GSFC can choose to use it the system for particle capture missions, docking operations, lander assist, or other ranging appliactions. This proposal intends to take advantage of collaboration between science PIs (MIT, GSFC) actively interested in using this technology as soon as it is matured, NYU fundamental research, and GSFC laser engineers capable of advancing the TRL of the system in order to meet the following short term goals, which will put the technology in better position to win future missions:

  1. Meter-scale projection of vector modes with applications for transport and telemetry with the goal of reconstruction over cm level scales.
  2. Programmable deflection of structured modes studying the quality of the beam as a function of angle for lidar applications.
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