01 April, 2015

SPAWAR's Laser Lab

It's easy to get lost and mesmerized amongst the spectrum of colors bouncing off the mirrors in the photonics lab at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific). The hypnotic colors reflected are, in fact, lasers and the kaleidoscopic light show is the future of data transmission.


For Dr. Burton Neuner III, a physicist at SSC Pacific in San Diego, lasers aren't just a novelty... they're becoming integral to everyday life.

"We are working on laser communication to enable higher data rates and greater information transfer so that the warfighter can make better decisions," said Neuner. "The reason we want to increase data rates is because currently in the undersea environment we have acoustics and radio frequency communications-both are very well established and they are effective-but the problem is the data rates are low compared to optical communications."

Optical communications essentially means using light to carry information. Using visible wavelengths and electronic sensors, this mode of communication means greater data rates are possible and more information can be transmitted. The use of laser technologies undersea will make wireless transfer of video and high-resolution photographs, for instance, not just possible but probable.

"The idea of better undersea information dominance enabled by lasers has been around for some time ... the difficulty has been one of technology," said Neuner. "We are entering a new regime where technology is continually improving, costs are going down, and sizes are getting smaller, and we know size, weight and power are very critical to deployed systems. So, now is really a great time to be expanding our capabilities."

Link: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/ftrStory.asp?issue=3&id=86005

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