Defense applications, such as geo-location, navigation, communication, coherent imaging and radar, depend on the generation and transmission of stable, agile electromagnetic radiation. Improved radiation sources—for example, lower noise microwaves or higher flux x-rays—could enhance existing capabilities and enable entirely new technologies.
The Program in Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering (PULSE) seeks the technological means for such improved radiation sources. Through precise spectral engineering in the optical domain, more efficient and agile use may be made of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. By generating and engineering waves in the optical domain, where engineers already exercise exquisite stability and control, these waveforms may be down or up-converted to the desired wavelength.
PULSE will also aim to apply this technology to enable synchronization, metrology and communications applications spanning the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio frequencies to x-rays. By building on established ultrafast laser techniques, PULSE seeks to:
- Develop agile, low phase-noise, portable radio frequency oscillators;
- Demonstrate techniques compatible with worldwide distribution of the world’s most accurate optical clocks;
- Construct tabletop sources of coherent x-rays in the water window (3-5 nanometers); and
- Produce efficient, isolated attosecond pulses as a stroboscopic probe of electron dynamics in materials.
During Phase 1, teams will develop components and conduct proof-of-principle demonstrations. In Phase 2, teams will shift focus to component integration and laboratory demonstrations aimed at achieving performance milestones. In Phase 3, teams will demonstrate their capabilities in a relevant defense operating environment.