Laser Development

Development of Miniaturized Intra-Cavity DFG, Fiber-Optic, and Quantum Cascade Laser Systems in Conjunction with Integrated Electronics for Global Studies of Climate Forcing and Response using UAVs as a Partner with Satellite and Adaptive Models

A problem of fundamental importance to the NASA vision and mission to improve life here and to understand and protect our home planet, involves a new strategic plan for establishing the quantitative link between rapidly increasing urban/regional emission of aerosol precursors (nitrate, sulfate, heavy metal, organic and elemental carbon) and changes in the optical properties of the atmosphere that constitute a powerful climate forcing. Dissecting the mechanisms underlying these changes requires measurements that span temporal scales from seconds to years and spatial scales from tens of meters to thousands of kilometers, to provide an effective union with A-Train satellites. This research will advance an array of innovative new developments in cavity enhanced spectroscopic techniques employing new miniaturized laser systems coupled with high finesse cavities that will provide a new generation of observations from NASA UAVs.

Central to these efforts will be the advancement of

  1. difference frequency generation (DFG), both singly resonant and intracavity,
  2. pulsed fiber lasers using emerging master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) configurations, micro-etalons, and double-clad fibers, and
  3. tailored quantum cascade lasers using newly developed beam epitaxy approaches.

In conjunction with these laser developments, we will advance developments in flight electronics with emphasis on scalable distributed processing and data acquisition necessary for the inclusion of a scientifically potent instrument array within the weight and volume restrictions of UAVs. A key component of this research endeavor is the objective of unifying the sub-orbital and satellite components of the NASA program.