Luna's proposed innovation will address the four chief technical challenges of deep space travel: mass reduction, reliability, affordability, and radiation hardening. The reduction of volume/mass/power of electronics and elimination of copper wires will maximize the science return for future missions. CMOS fabrication of optical networks will allow for ruggedization and increases in reliability as well as reductions in cost. Radiation hardening of a continuous wave tunable laser will provide a reliable building block for future missions such as Discovery, New Frontiers, Mars, and Europa-Jupiter. Applying OFDR to structural health monitoring will benefit launch vehicles, space stations, and inflatable habitats. Implementing OFDR as a photonics system-on-chip for SHM will achieve the size, weight, and power requirements for these innovative space applications. Teaming with UCSB (part of IP-IMI/AIM Photonics) adds credibility to achieving a viable OFDR-based photonics product for structural health monitoring.
The successful commercialization of an OFDR system-on-chip will revolutionize the fiber optic distributed sensing market. Attaining the unrivaled spatial resolution of OFDR in a miniaturized, lightweight, and low-cost package will enable many new sensing applications. Distributed fiber optic sensing is a perfect fit for embedding strain sensors in composite structures in aerospace and automotive vehicles. This innovation will be the first step to achieve in-flight, online SHM of aeronautical and space launch vehicle structures. The high-definition sensing of OFDR can identify defects, delamination, and stress concentrations that traditional strain gage sensors miss. The reduction in cost and size, weight, and power (SWaP) enabled by this research will be crucial to successful implementation. Advancing the state-of-the-art in structural health monitoring will increase safety and efficiency in aircraft and automotive transportation, and can also be adapted to benefit civil infrastructure like bridges and buildings.