On January 19, 2024, IRflex Corporation signed a SBIR Phase I Option contract with NAVAIR for Optical Additive Manufacturing in Mid-Wave and long-Wave Infrared Bands.
This Phase I Option award followed the successful completion of the Phase I contract signed on May 11, 2023.
The additive manufacturing (AM) process has the potential for depositing MWIR and LWIR optical precursor materials with sufficient quality and precision for IR optical components or to perform front surface repair on existing IR optical components. The MWIR-LWIR AM will allow engineering of new compact optical systems with high imaging performance, fewer optical elements, less weight and volume, and easier alignment compared to current multi-components IR imaging optics.
On June 29, 2023, IRflex Corporation signed SBIR Phase II Option Contract (Topic N19B-T028) with DOD NAVAIR for Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Material for Advanced Optics, after successfully work partnered with University of Central Florida on Phase I and Phase II for the same project.
The award is to continuedly develop an additive manufacturing (AM) process for depositing inorganic glasses with sufficient quality and precision for free form and gradient index optics.
On April 18, 2019 IRflex Corporation singed this captioned SBIR Phase I project with Navy. After successfully completing the captioned Phase I, Phase I Option and Phase II project, on June 16, 2023 IRflex Corporation announces that the company was awarded NAVY SBIR Topic N191-012 Phase II Option project for Mid-Wave Infrared Polarization-Maintaining Single Mode Fiber.
Most infrared lasers are polarized. PM-fiber offers the capability of preserving the launched light polarization state as it propagates through the fiber. In conventional fibers the polarization state is not preserved due to mechanical stress, temperature induced changes, fiber fabrication imperfections, and fiber bends. Commercially available silica PM-fibers only cover the visible and near-infrared spectrum. Currently there is no commercially available PM-fiber solution for the MWIR region. The objective of this project is to develop single mode polarization-maintaining fiber (PM-fiber) that covers the Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR) wavelengths from 2um – 6um for applications that require a high polarization extinction ratio at the fiber output and is able to waveguide tens of watts of optical power through the fiber.
Two years ago, on January 29, 2021, IRflex Corporation signed a Phase II 800,000$US contract with the Department of Defense after completion of the Phase I project of the same title to develop an anti-reflective surface for infrared Optical fiber Endfaces. After 2 years completing the Phase II project objective, IRflex was awarded the option 300,000$US to continue the project.
The objective of the project is to develop an anti-reflective surface for use on bare and connectorized infrared fiber optic cable assembly in the wavelength interests of 1.4 to 5 micron. In such region, optical materials with a large index of refraction are often used. According to the Fresnel equation, reflection loss increases significantly when the difference between the index of the exit medium and the index of the entrance medium is 1 or greater. In addition to the need for low reflectivity, anti-reflective surfaces must be tolerant to high optical power. The end result of this project is an anti-reflective surface with an improved damage threshold for high power application that can be manufactured.
On May 11, 2023, IRflex Corporation signed a SBIR Phase I contract with NAVAIR for Optical Additive Manufacturing in Mid-Wave and long-Wave Infrared Bands.
The military extensively uses mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensors and cameras for reconnaissance and surveillance of targets of interest by thermal emissions. IR cameras require broadband imaging systems composed of several IR lenses made of different materials to correct for chromatic aberrations (focal shift caused by dn/d-wavelength) or for a thermalization (focal shift caused by dn/dT). IR cameras and the high-definition imaging systems are very expensive and are often exposed to harsh environments (sand, salt water, vibration, temperature variation, etc.) and can be damaged. The potential use of MWIR-LWIR AM to print imaging quality optical lens is highly desirable and critical for current and future Navy IR optical systems. The AM process has the potential for depositing MWIR and LWIR optical precursor materials with sufficient quality and precision for IR optical components or to perform front surface repair on existing IR optical components. The MWIR-LWIR AM will allow engineering of new compact optical systems with high imaging performance, fewer optical elements, less weight and volume, and easier alignment compared to current multi-components IR imaging optics.
PHASE I work will analyze the current state-of-the-art MWIR and LWIR AM technology. Identify the technological, innovative, and reliability challenges to determine the feasibility of using MWIR and LWIR AM for the refurbishment of MWIR and LWIR optical components (the required optical properties, full densification, and smooth surface finish, as provided in the Description), and propose a plan for how these will be addressed. Perform a preliminary identification of hazards and cost comparisons for MWIR and LWIR AM of MWIR and LWIR optical components.
IRflex Corporation is proud to announce that on November 22, 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued Patent Number US 11,506,818 B1 to IRflex Corporation for the Circular Photonics Crystal Fiber and the protection of this corporate product invention and intellectual property
August 11, 2022, Danville, VA – IRflex Corporation, has been awarded a United States Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Contract entitled High Performance Optical Fibers for 100-Watts Infrared Lasers, with the amount over 866,000US$.
The objective of this contract is to develop a high performance, low loss (less than 0.5dB/m), infrared (IR) fiber technology for transmitting high power greater than 100 Watts CW from a multi-band mid-infrared laser for the wavelength from 2 to 6 micron. IRflex has successfully completed Phase I of the contract from December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021), and another 4 months bridge option contract.
This PHASE II contract is to demonstrate production of usable lengths of mid-infrared fiber to transmit high power (> 100 Watts CW) laser output in the 2-6 micron region with less than 0.5dB/m loss and high material strength. The minimum requirement for the constructed and demonstrated fiber prototype is 25W of optical power transmission with low-loss (<0.5dB/m). The transmitted beam shape should be as close as possible to a smooth Gaussian beam, which would typically be launched into it. Survivability of fibers under representative stress should be demonstrated. Key factors for this fiber technology are reliability, reproducibility, cost, and transmission characteristics.
IRflex Corporation is proud to announce that on July 19, 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued Patent Number US 11,391,886 B2 to IRflex Corporation for the Polarization-Maintaining Photonics Crystal Fiber (PM-PCF) and the protection of this corporate product invention and intellectual property.
The new PM-PCF has an asymmetric orthogonal pattern of longitudinal holes having different periods and diameters. The PM-PCF is designed and made of chalcogenide glass to offer endlessly single mode in the mid-infrared (2-6 microns) with good beam quality (M2~1). The guided mode is circular to improve the coupling efficiency and to collimate the output beam with a single lens. The large mode area enables the transmission of high-power polarized infrared laser (>10W CW). Also, the new PM-PCF has high birefringence (~10-4), low propagation losses (0.2dB/m), and low insertion loss (<0.1dB). PM-PCF prototypes are being tested and we expect to start production in Q1 of 2023.
On June 30th, 2021, IRflex Corporation signed SBIR 800,000US$ Phase II Contract with DOD NAVAIR for Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Material for Advanced Optics, after successfully finishing nine-months work partnered with University of Central Florida on Phase I and Phase I Option for the same project.
The award is principally to develop an additive manufacturing (AM) process for depositing inorganic glasses with sufficient quality and precision for free form and gradient index optics.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial production name for 3D printing, a computer-controlled process that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers. The benefits of AM are widely realized for structural systems; however, work on printing optical systems is still in its comparative nascency. The majority of the work has been primarily focused on polymers. There are broad arrays of weapon and surveillance systems that utilize high performance optics. The motivation is to serve the growing demand for those many applications requiring greater wavelength transmission range, hardness, and temperature stability compared to polymers. The potential for utilizing AM technology to print glass lenses will provide the ability to 1) deposit net shape or near net-shape free-form optics, 2) locally adjust the index of refraction and other optical properties such as dispersion, 3) create high precision low thermal expansion meteorological frames that can form the basis for refractive optics, and 4) repair existing optical systems.
IRflex Corporation manufactures the mid-infrared fibers based on extra high purity chalcogenide glass, whose proprietary fiber technology and know-how support the Phase II project to fully develop the AM process which demonstrated in Phase I and Phase I Option, that can be applicable to an array of naval optical component geometries. Include, in the prototype demonstration, the effectiveness of fabricating fully densified optical components with precision control of the part geometry, and smooth surface quality. Fully characterize the resulting geometry, and mechanical and microstructural properties achieved through the process to validate the effectiveness of the AM process.