June 11, 2001

DARPA Funds New Program For Secure Free-Space Communications

LIVERMORE, Calif.—Under a new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is teaming with academic institutions and industry, to develop powerful new capabilities for multi-gigabit per second, secure, free-space communication links and aberration-free three-dimensional imaging and targeting at ranges larger than 1000 km.

Phase-I of the four-year "Coherent Communications, Imaging and Targeting" (CCIT) program brings together researchers from the Livermore Lab, academic institutions including Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, Boston University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS)/photonics companies including Boston MicroMachines, Lucent, Maxios and MicroAssembly Technologies, and U.S. aerospace companies. The aerospace companies, which include Ball Aerospace, Boeing, Harris, HRL Laboratories, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, TRW and the Aerospace Corporation, will be potential users. HRL and TRW are also contributing to Phase-I hardware development and modeling.

According to DARPA, innovative concepts and integration of MEMS spatial light modulators, which provide a quantum leap in wavefront control, along with photonics and high-speed electronics will provide affordable and high values systems for use well into the 21st century.

LLNL is the lead organization for Phase I of the two-phase project and is responsible for modeling, MEMS development coordination, the integration of MEMS, photonics and high-speed electronics into a CCIT prototype system, and concept demonstrations. Phase I will receive $9.5 million over two years from DARPA. Phase II will be awarded on a competitive basis and led by industry.

"The CCIT program has the potential to be a major development in secure, free-space communications for a range of military applications, as well as, to have a significant impact in the commercial arena," said Dr. Eddy Stappaerts, the CCIT Program Manager at LLNL.

DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD). DARPA manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology, which may provide dramatic advances for military roles and missions. DARPA’s goal is to develop imaginative, innovative and often high-risk research ideas that offer a significant technological impact and that go well beyond the normal evolutionary developmental approaches; and, to pursue these ideas from the demonstration of technical feasibility through the development of prototype systems.