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NP Photonics Wins Amp Contract
May 2005
TUCSON, Ariz., May 12 -- NP Photonics, a supplier of optical components and modules for the sensing, military, industrial and R&D markets, was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the Air Force Research Laboratories at Kirkland Air Force Base.

The contract, worth $750,000 over the next two years, enables NP Photonics to further develop its compact panoramic optical power amplifier suitable for 2-D image amplification. The amplifier is based on NP's high-gain-per-unit-length Yb-doped phosphate glass and fiber technology, in which multiple active cores in one optical fiber are energized collectively by semiconductor pump diodes to amplify the pixels of an image or array.

"This SBIR program allows us to develop a new approach to image amplification that combines the high gain and high efficiency of cladding-pumped optical amplifiers with the imaging properties of coherent fiber bundles," said Arturo Chavez-Pirson, director of technology development at NP Photonics.

Amplification of low-level light images is used in applications such as laser tracking and pointing of remote targets. An image amplifier covering a wide field of view captures multiple targets simultaneously with better signal to noise, leading to higher system performance, such as a longer target range capability or a stronger immunity to atmospheric disturbance.

In Phase II, NP Photonics will work on increasing pixel count for enhanced spatial resolution. Prototypes will be evaluated in collaboration with the Air Force as low-noise image amplifiers in acquisition, tracking and pointing systems.   

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