S. J. Ben Yoo
University of California, Davis
We propose a revolutionary electro-optical (EO) imaging sensor concept that provides a low-mass, low-volume alternative to the traditional bulky optical telescope and focal plane detector array. This imaging sensor concept consists of millions of direct detection white-light interferometers densely packed onto photonic integrated circuits (PICs) to measure the amplitude and phase of the visibility function at spatial frequencies that span the full synthetic aperture. Our approach replaces the large optics and structures required by a conventional telescope with PICs based on emerging photonic technologies which are produced by standard lithographic fabrication techniques (e.g., CMOS fabrication). By integrating advanced optical interferometry and photonics technologies, this new EO imaging sensor concept enables exciting new NASA outer planet missions since it provides a large-aperture, wide-field EO imager at a fraction of the cost, mass and volume of conventional space telescopes. As part of the initial investigations, we will study several areas tailored to potential NASA missions and requirements including, development an imaging model for potential interferometer array geometries and low light environments, evaluation of PIC architectures and corresponding signal-to-noise models, and development of a technology roadmap that addresses unique NASA mission requirements such as survivability in high radiation environments.