IRflex signed a new SBIR Phase I contract with NAVAIR to develop mid-wave infrared fiber amplifier

On June 8, 2020, IRflex Corporation signed a new SBIR Phase I contract with NAVAIR for developing Mid-Wave Infrared Fiber Amplifier.  The objective of this contract is to develop and demonstrate a high-power mid-wave infrared (MWIR) fiber amplifier for quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) capable of output power scaling up to 1 kilowatt (kW).

High power mid-wave infrared (MWIR) laser sources in the wavelength range of 4.5 to 5 micrometers are of great interest in defense applications. Phase I contract involves development of a proof-of-concept doped chalcogenide fiber and demonstration of laser amplification in the mid infrared.

The commercial sector can also benefit from the crucial, game-changing technology development in detection of toxic gases, environmental monitoring, and non-invasive heath monitoring and sensing.

IRflex is open for business, how can we help?

In light of the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation, we want to ensure that we are communicating with our customers on our status. IRflex Corporation is considered an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce which are expected to maintain the normal work schedules while following guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Virginia State and local government officials regarding strategies to limit disease spread and as of today, our manufacturing facility and R&D Labs remain operational and we continue to ship in most countries.

Our focus continues to be on customer service and the safety, well-being of our customers, employees, and suppliers. We will continue to share guidance and information as it becomes pertinent and any updates as appropriate. Please contact via phone, email with any questions or requests you may have.  As always, we continue to make customer service our #1 priority.

As we go through these very unprecedented time, we hope that you remain healthy and safe!

COVID-19 Guidance

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IRflex Corporation Awarded SBIR Phase I Option for Mid-Wave Infrared Polarization-Maintaining Single Mode Fiber

March 31, 2020, Danville, VA – IRflex Corporation Awarded NAVAL AIR SBIR Phase I Option Contract for Mid-Wave Infrared Polarization-Maintaining Single Mode Fiber

IRflex Corporation, has been awarded a United States NAVAL AIR Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) OPTION Contract entitled, “Mid-Wave Infrared Polarization-Maintaining Single Mode Fiber”.  The award is continuing work on the previous awarded Phase I contract with the same title. The objective is to develop single mode polarization-maintaining fiber (PM-fiber) that covers the mid-wave infrared (MWIR) wavelengths from 2µm – 6µm 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.

Phase I:  Determine the feasibility of an initial design of a PM-fiber approach best suited for the MWIR spectral region.  Evaluate the performance of the PM-fiber design by determining if wave guidance is achieved in the spectral window of 2µm to 6µm, the magnitude of the birefringence, and the attenuation loss is less than 0.2dB/m.  Demonstrate fabrication proof of concept and identify the steps and approach needed to fabricate the fiber design.  IRflex is committed to serving the market need to continuing the Phase I option contract with effort include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

This Phase I option contract will start on March 31, 2020 and finish in October 2020. IRflex Corporation is confident to carry the contract into Phase II.

IRflex Signed New STTR contract with NAVAIR to Developing an “Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Materials for Advanced Optics”

On October 21, 2019, Teamed with University of Central Florida, IRflex Corporation signed another STTR Phase I contract with NAVAIR for developing an “Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Materials for Advanced 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. Many of these applications require 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.

The objective of this STTR Phase I project is to develop an Additive Manufacturing (AM) process for depositing inorganic glasses with sufficient quality and precision for free-form and gradient index optics.

IRflex wins SBIR Phase I Project to develop anti-reflective surface for infrared optical fibers endfaces

On October 8, 2019, IRflex Corporation signed a contract with the Department of Defense after winning the Phase I project N192-067 proposal to develop an anti-reflective surface for use on bare and connectorized infrared fiber optical cable assembly endfaces.

The project requests that the anti-reflective surface should be realizable on non-silica optical fiber including indium fluoride, chalcogenide, tellurite, and ZBLAN. Fiber optic cables should be designed to assemble with SubMiniature Version A (SMA) 905 connectors and be compatible with short and mid-wave laser sources for the wavelength interest region of 1.5 to 5 micron. The fiber optic cable assembly must pass thermal, vibration, and humidity environmental testing. The end result of this project is an anti-reflective surface with an improved damage threshold for high power application that can be manufactured.

IRflex Corporation manufactures the mid-infrared fibers based on extra high purity chalcogenide glass, whose proprietary fiber technology and knowhow support the project to design, model, and demonstrate a proof of concept of anti-reflective surface for our mid-infrared optical fibers and cables.

IRflex wins NAVY SBIR 2019 Phase I award for Mid-Wave Infrared Polarization-Maintaining Single Mode Fiber

April 18, 2019 – Danville, VA, USA – IRflex Corporation announces that the company starts today the newly awarded NAVY SBIR Phase I project for Mid-Wave Infrared Polarization-Maintaining Single Mode Fiber.

Applications requiring linearly polarized light and the flexibility of fiber delivery in the MWIR region will require a fiber solution that preserve the polarization state of the launched light. 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 cover the visible and near-infrared spectrum; these work by creating a strong birefringence across the core of the fiber, which is responsible for preserving the polarization state of launched light as long as the polarization is aligned with one of the birefringent axes.

Currently there is no commercially available PM-fiber solution for the MWIR region. A specialty fiber capable of high-power laser transmission (>10W cw) and preserving the polarization state of the input light with high polarization extinction ratio (~-30dB), high birefringence (~10-3) and with low propagation losses (<0.2dB/m) covering the MWIR wavelength spectrum is desired.

This Phase I project is to determine the feasibility of an initial design of a PM-fiber approach best suited for the MWIR spectral region. Evaluate the performance of the PM-fiber design by determining if wave guidance is achieved in the spectral window of 2um – 6um, the magnitude of the birefringence, and the attenuation loss is less than 0.2dB/m. Demonstrate fabrication proof of concept and identify the steps and approach needed to fabricate the fiber design. IRflex Corporation is looking forward to develop a prototype plan of this fiber to be carried into Phase II.

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.