Multi-colored Lasers
Optical Tunable-Based Transmitter for Multiple High-Frequency Bands
NASA Glenn's researchers have developed a means of transporting multiple radio frequency carriers through a common optical beam. In contrast to RF infrastructure systems alone, this type of hybrid RF/optical system can provide a very high data-capacity signal communication and significantly reduce power, volume, and complexity. Based on an optical wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technique, in which optical wavelengths are generated by a tunable diode laser (TDL), the system enables multiple microwave bands to be combined and transmitted all in one unit. The WDM technique uses a different optical wavelength to carry each separate and independent high-frequency microwave band (e.g., L, C, X, Ku, Ka, Q, or higher bands). Since each RF carrier operates at a different optical wavelength, the tunable diode laser can, with the use of an electronic tunable laser controller unit, adjust the spacing wavelength and thereby minimize any crosstalk effect. Glenn's novel design features a tunable laser, configured to generate multiple optical wavelengths, along with an optical transmitter. The optical transmitter modulates each of the optical wavelengths with a corresponding RF band and then encodes each of the modulated optical wavelengths onto a single laser beam. In this way, the system can transmit multiple radio frequency bands using a single laser beam. Glenn's groundbreaking concept can greatly improve the system flexibility and scalability - not to mention the cost of - both ground and space communications.
Digital Medical
NanoWire Glass Switch for Radio Frequency
The nanoionic-based switches developed by NASA's Glenn Research Center exploit the properties of some amorphous materials that can incorporate relatively large amounts of metal and behave as solid electrolytes. As with liquid electrolytes found in lead-acid batteries, for example, solid electrolytes consist of mobile ions which undergo oxidation/reduction reactions at the anode and cathode of the system. The ionic conductivity of such a material can be of the same order of magnitude as the electronic conductivity of a semiconductor but without the drawbacks of an electromechanical device. In the nanoionic switch, ions are formed at an anode and migrate into the solid electrolyte, while electrons are injected from a cathode, thereby causing the growth of metal nanowires through the electrolyte from the cathode to the corresponding anode when a positive DC bias is applied. Once a nanowire has grown sufficiently to form an electrically conductive path between the electrodes, the switch is closed and no electric power is needed to maintain the connection, unlike in a MEMS or semiconductor-based switch. Moreover, the process of making the connection can easily be reversed by applying a negative bias, causing the wires to ungrow and the switch to open. Thus, NASA's state-of-the-art device is a reversible electrochemical switch that can have geometric features as small as nanometers. The process time for making or breaking the connection is very brief -- about a nanosecond. In addition, this nanoionic material can be deposited in such a way to form multilayer control circuits, which has the potential to minimize circuit footprints, reduce overall circuit losses, and provide unprecedented ease of integration.
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