Kilowatt (kW) Class Continuous Wave (CW) and Pulse Laser Hardened Optical Systems for Submarines

Navy SBIR 21.1 - Topic N211-030
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: January 14, 2021 - Closes: February 18, 2021 (12:00pm EDT)

N211-030 TITLE: Kilowatt (kW) Class Continuous Wave (CW) and Pulse Laser Hardened Optical Systems for Submarines

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Directed energy


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a Kilowatt (kW) class Continuous Wave (CW) and Pulse laser hardened optical system for submarines.

DESCRIPTION: Submarines may be subject to high power laser beams, which may damage optics and sensors in beam directors and periscopes. The Navy is seeking a technology that would allow laser hardening of vulnerable optical components in beam directors, periscopes, or other optical system without compromising their functional capabilities such as imaging, and directing a high-energy laser beam with no losses or wave front distortion. The radiation hardening system will integrate into submarine optical systems to include at minimum beam directors, periscopes, and imaging systems. Commercial optics employ thin films whose primary purpose is not the scope of this SBIR topic.

The Navy is seeking a design to be developed employing technology based on 4th generation transparent materials. In general, the current thin film based technology, thin enough not to generate substantial heating within the film when exposed to the high-power laser beams, while still having high optically nonlinear response to the influence of high power CW (continuous wave) or pulsed laser beams of relevant wavelengths will be considered. Due to 100s kW class CW laser power at 1 or 1.5 m laser wavelength and picosecond laser pulse of greater than 10 mJ per pulse, the material response shall not be accompanied with increased absorption as for example two-photon absorption per pulsed beams. The blocking of the high-power beams shall rather be a result of beam deflection away from the vulnerable optics into, for example, a radiation dump. Such photo-triggered diffraction gratings should diffract over 99% of radiation and have an aperture up to 12" in size. The proposed materials damage threshold shall be greater than 100s MW for CW and greater than gigawatts for pulse lasers at 1 and 1.5 m wavelength. Prototypes will be tested at a Navy lab in order to test, evaluate, and validate the specifications identified above.

Passive approaches will be considered, provided they are capable of rejecting high-power beams with an efficiency of rejecting greater than 80% of the optical power with only 20 degrees C of additional increase in the substrate temperature. Thin film photonic bandgaps, passive or photo-responsive seem particularly promising for this purpose.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Provide a concept to solve the Navys problem based on the requirements in the Description, and demonstrate the feasibility of that concept. Develop a concept for laser hardening and perform a trade study for submarine applications. Demonstrate feasibility through modeling and simulation. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype system for HEL kW class direct high energy laser testing and evaluation based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW). Develop the required technology into a prototype device and demonstrate that it meets the requirements in the Description. Test and refine the prototype into a technology that the Navy can use. Deliver the prototype laser hardened optical system, around 12 inch in diameter for kW class test and evaluation by U.S. NAVY.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support transitioning the technology for Navy use. Identify the final prototype product for transition into NAVSEA undersea platform and plan for the transition to Phase III, to include validation, testing, and HEL testing for Navy use. This technology has potential commercial transition to other applications such as industrial material processing window (welding, cutting, soldering, marking, cleaning, etc.) and fundamental research window.


  1. S.R. Nersisyan, N.V. Tabiryan, D.M. Steeves, B. Kimball, Optical Axis Gratings in Liquid Crystals and their use for Polarization insensitive optical switching, Journal of Nonlinear Optical Physics & Materials, 18 (1), 147, 2009.
  2. S. V. Serak, N.V. Tabiryan, T. J. Bunning, Nonlinear transmission of photosensitive cholesteric liquid crystals due to spectral bandwidth auto-tuning or restoration, J. Nonlinear Optical Physics & Materials, 16 (4), 471-483, 2007.
  3. N. Tabiryan, D. Roberts, D. Steeves, and B. Kimball, "4G Optics: New Technology Extends Limits to the Extremes," Photonics Spectra, March, 2017, pp. 46-50.
  4. N.V. Tabiryan, S.R. Nersisyan, D.M. Steeves and B.R. Kimball, The Promise of Diffractive Waveplates, Optics and Photonics News, 21 (3), 41-45, 2010.

KEYWORDS: Pulse laser; laser hardened optical system; photo-responsive; laser damage threshold; picosecond pulse (ps); nonlinear optics.


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 8, 2020, which opens to receive proposals on January 14, 2021, and closes February 18, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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