June 15, 2001

Lab to assist in secure communication links through DARPA initiative

Under a new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative, the 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 Lab, academic institutions including Stanford University, UC 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 Corp., 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 be 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 Eddy Stappaerts, the CCIT program manager at the Lab.

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