IRflex Corporation Wins Department of Defense Phase I STTR Project Award for Lasers Based on Gas or Liquid Filled Hollow-Core Photonic Crystal Fibers

October 15, 2018 – Danville, VA (Monday, October 15, 2018) – IRflex Corporation announced today that the company has been awarded a 2018 Department of Defense (DOD) Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award to team up with University of New Mexico to develop Lasers Based on Gas or Liquid Filled Hollow-Core Photonic Crystal Fibers (HCPCF).

Mid-IR generation in hollow-core photonic crystal fiber offers a potential means to mitigate the drawbacks of current pulse and continuous wave mid-IR laser sources, which rely on near IR lasers to pump a bulk nonlinear optical material that requires angle or temperature tuning to generate the desired wavelength. Current systems are mechanically complex, require free space optical alignment, and are fairly huge in size. In addition, material selection for efficient nonlinear generation of Mid-IR wavelengths and the ability to create higher peak powers are limited.

HCPCF offers a unique hybridization of fiber optic technology and gas/liquid laser technology, which can enable efficient sources of mid-IR laser emission with great flexibility in emission wavelength in a compact, mechanically-robust design. This allows the new laser system to minimize the number of free space optics, without gas containment cells, and have the potential to operate over a wider range of temperatures with greater power emission.

The program will benefit from IRflex’s hollow-core photonic crystal fiber (HCPCF) using chalcogenide glass with University of New Mexico’s patented gas-filled fiber laser technology for applications such as LADAR seekers, target illuminators, designators, target trackers, infrared counter measures, and standoff chem-bio detection.

“Since later 2016, considerable work has already been accomplished here in IRflex to develop the hollow-core fiber using our chalcogenide glass to target CO2 laser market. IRflex is pleased to be working with the DOD and University of New Mexico on this project. Although our Mid-IR fiber technology currently delivers on a variety of applications across multiple markets, we see this project as yet another opportunity to advance our on-going project and open up the CO2 commercial market segments to IRflex Corporation, which is very important to the company growth.” Says company CEO, Dr. Francois Chenard.

New Phase II Contract with the Air Force: Robust Mid-IR Optical Fibers for Extreme Environments

January 12, 2018 – IRflex will begin a new Phase II contract with the Air Force on 15 January 2018: Robust Mid-IR Optical Fibers for Extreme Environments. We will develop robust optical fibers capable of low-loss light transport in the 2-5 micron spectral region in high-stress, high-vibration environments. The great progress and accomplishments demonstrated in the early prototyping Phase I effort are very exciting.  Phase II effort will continue the development of innovative materials science processes to produce ultra high purity materials and robust mid-infrared optical fibers for extreme environments.  At the end of Phase II, we will demonstrate production of long lengths mid-IR fiber for transport of high power (>100 W) laser output in the 2-5 um region with low loss <0.1dB/m.  Integration with active laser systems in a monolithic fashion will be developed.  Survivability of fibers under representative stress (such as applicable Mil-Specs) will be demonstrated.

The proposed robust mid-infrared optical fiber for extreme environments is targeted primarily for military applications and supports directly the advancement of IRCM systems and remote sensing of targets and threats.  IRflex will be in a unique position to develop and commercialize this innovative mid-infrared fiber for military (IRCM), chemical sensing (molecular spectroscopy), biomedical (laser surgery), and research and development applications.