Scientists at the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Aircraft Division have developed a novel method and device for improving light transmission and object detection in light-scattering (turbid) media like hazy water and fog.
The Navy’s inventions address both of these issues and it has applied for U.S. patents on the technology.
In this innovation, Navy scientists use the spatial structure of the beam itself to aid in object and clutter discrimination by exploiting the optical properties of Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM).
Deploying a spiral phase plate in front of a CCD camera, simple diffractive optics can impart OAM onto a beam of light.
Optical beams with such a helical phase result in an intensity vortex that serves as a coherence (object) filter, to spatially separate object returns from clutter.
The results of this work show high agreement with theoretical models of attenuation, the ability to detect object returns 100-1000x below clutter levels, and a simple method of detecting coherent light without complicated optical heterodyning.
Potential commercial applications of the technology include improved devices and techniques for optical communications, transmissometry, and LiDAR in air, water, and space.
There are a wide range of commercial and military applications including runway safety, chemical and biosensing, and tissue imaging.
Military applications may include helicopter guidance in a brownout, non-acoustic mine and explosive ordinance detection, non-acoustic anti-submarine warfare, and covert broadband communications.
- Helical propagation is reduced to practice in some current optical applications
- Improves object detection 100-100x below clutter levels
- Less susceptible to unwanted forward scattered light
- The technology and pending patents are available to businesses via license agreement
- Spiral phase plates may be available under a limited purpose research agreement
- Collaboration with the inventors and access to lab tanks may be possible through a full Cooperative Research and Development Agreement
- Technical know-how available to businesses through short term commercial evaluation license or patent license agreement