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SBIR/STTR

Fast-Light Enhanced Fiber Gyroscope, Phase II

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Current state-of-the-art navigation systems incorporate optical gyroscopes and optical accelerometers as inertial sensors. These devices contain no moving parts and can sense rotations and accelerations with high bandwidth. However, there is a fundamental tradeoff between the size of an optical gyroscope and its sensitivity. Highly sensitive gyroscopes are needed to meet navigation goals, but Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) are extremely precious resources in spacecraft or UAVs. Enhancing the sensitivity of existing devices, reducing their size, or both can allow the use of inertial navigation in smaller airframes, or free up room to include larger mission payloads for scientific or military purposes. Using fast-light effects generated in fiber with Stimulated Brillouin Scattering, we will enhance rotation sensitivity of conventional Ring Laser Gyroscope, to develop IMUs that will deliver higher performance and/or lower SWaP than a traditional navigation system. In Phase I we built, tested, and analyzed an SBS RLG test bed with automated control and data collection, both under quiet conditions and under rotations. We also established requirements on system stability to produce an interesting RLG using the technology, and determined it is technically feasible to achieve in Phase II. In the proposed Phase II work, we will demonstrate fast-light enhancement of an RLG in the lab and produce a prototype to characterize the potential performance of a fast-light enhanced IMU product. More »

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