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Center Innovation Fund

Electro-Optical Technology Development In Liquid Crystal Beam Steering (E-OpTICS)

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

Electro-Optical Technology Development In Liquid Crystal Beam Steering

The Electro-Optical Technology Development In Liquid Crystal Beam Steering (E-OpTICS) project is proposed to directly address a critical agency need for space-based lidar and laser beam steering. Under E-OpTICS, we propose to develop and demonstrate a non-mechanical laser beam steering sensor for integration into NASA Langley Research Center's Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL). The two-year investigation will include design, fabrication, characterization and environmental testing of a liquid crystal polarization grating (LCPG) based non-mechanical beam steering (NMBS) hardware. E-OpTICS LCPG NMBS hardware will meet the requirements for NDL which include 1550 nm laser beam steering using a 5 cm clear aperture over a large 60 x 60o field of regard. E-OpTICS will deliver a LCPG NMBS beam steering device that yields fast (<10 ms) pointing speeds, random access pointing capability and an agile low size (0.6 m3), weight (<0.5 kg) and power (~0.5 W) package. This technology will provide an order of magnitude improvement in weight and two orders of magnitude improvement in performance and power consumption over mechanical beam steering systems. E-OpTICS will deliver a non-mechanical beam steering system that can be directly infused into NDL and is scalable to other lidar instruments that support NASA's airborne and space-based missions.

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