DIRECT TO PHASE II - Ultrahigh-Dynamic Range Photonic-Assisted Direct Digitization Receiver

Navy SBIR 24.1 - Topic N241-D01
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET

N241-D01 TITLE: DIRECT TO PHASE II: Ultrahigh-Dynamic Range Photonic-Assisted Direct Digitization Receiver

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Network Systems-of-Systems; Microelectronics; Sustainment

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 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 photonic-enabled receiver that can directly digitize radio frequencies up to 4 GHz without desensitizing or compressing in the presence of strong interference.

DESCRIPTION: The benefits of direct digitization receivers are well known and include (1) software-defined signal processing over the entire operating frequency range, and (2) lower size, weight, and cost in comparison with superheterodyne receiver chains. Despite these advantages, two key limitations prohibit their use in certain demanding applications: (a) strong interference either desensitizes or compresses the entire spectrum, and (b) radio frequency (RF) sampling analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) consume large amounts of electrical power, which can be difficult to manage in certain harsh environments where antennas are deployed.

Microwave photonic signal processors and analog fiber-optic links are well suited to overcome these fundamental limitations.(3,4) In particular, wideband analog photonic phase modulation enables designers to encode analog signals in the optical domain without any small signal approximations, enabling the use of sensitive coherent receiver photonics to sample in-phase and quadrature components and decode phase information in the digital domain directly [Ref 1]. The benefits of analog signal transport over fiber are also well known, enabling coherent sampling multichannel receivers and power-hungry ADCs to be integrated in more amenable locations with access to power, cooling, and maintenance.

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 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq., National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances. This will allow contractor personnel to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and NAVAIR 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 during the advanced phases of this contract IAW the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which can be found at Title 32, Part 2004.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Reference: National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual (NISP), 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq. (1993).

PHASE I: For a Direct to Phase II topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a Phase I-type effort. It must have developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address at a minimum the basic requirements of the stated objective. The below actions would be required in order to successfully satisfy the requirements of Phase I:

Demonstrate the feasibility of a design of a photonic-assisted direct digitization receiver with a 3MHz–4 GHz target, 3MHz-2GHz threshold instantaneous bandwidth (IBW), an effective noise figure (NF) of < 8 dB target, < 13 dB threshold, and an input-referred full-scale power greater than 26 dBm target and 15dBm threshold from 3MHz-2GHz, and 15 dBm target -10 dBm threshold from 2 GHz–4 GHz. The direct digitization receiver should not desensitize or compress with spurious above ADC spurs over the entire input power range. With a noise figure (NF) less than 8 dB and an assumed SNR > 6 dB, the receiver should also be able to receive signals (1 MHz analysis bandwidth) down to < -100 dBm target, < -88 dBm threshold, even in the presence of in-band interference up to the aforementioned levels. The demonstration shall include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION: Offerors interested in participating in Direct to Phase II must include in their response to this topic Phase I feasibility documentation that substantiates the scientific and technical merit and Phase I feasibility described in Phase I above has been met (i.e., the small business must have performed Phase I-type research and development related to the topic NOT solely based on work performed under prior or ongoing federally funded SBIR/STTR work) and describe the potential commercialization applications. The documentation provided must validate that the proposer has completed development of technology as stated in Phase I above. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Work submitted within the feasibility documentation must have been substantially performed by the offeror and/or the principal investigator (PI). Read and follow all of the DON SBIR 24.1 Direct to Phase II Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Instructions. Phase I proposals will NOT be accepted for this topic.

PHASE II: Create and test a functioning prototype exceeding the threshold performance objectives. Demonstrate a packaged design and real-time digital signal processing.

Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in Description paragraph.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the DoD in transitioning the proposed receiver to include working with a Program Office to develop a final packaging design that meets platform’s Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) and environmental requirements, and developing systems specifications for the associated analog photonic links. Development of this receiver has widespread commercial applications for commercial radar and 5G/6G receivers.


  1. Clark, T. R., O'Connor, S. R., & Dennis, M. L. (2010). A phase-modulation I/Q-demodulation microwave-to-digital photonic link. IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, 58(11), 3039-3058.
  2. Urick, V. J., Jr., Williams, K. J., & McKinney, J. D. (2015, February 6). Fundamentals of microwave photonics. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Devgan, P. S. (2018). Applications of Modern RF Photonics. Artech House.
  4. Yegnanarayanan, S., Kharas, D., Plant, J. J., Ricci, M., Ghosh, S., Sorace-Agaskar, C., & Juodawlkis, P. W. (2021, August). Integrated Microwave Photonic Subsystems. In 2021 IEEE Research and Applications of Photonics in Defense Conference (RAPID) (pp. 1-2). IEEE.
  5. KEYWORDS: Digitization; Electronic Warfare; EW; Receiver; Photonic; Radio Frequency; RF; Fiber

    ** TOPIC NOTICE **

    The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 24.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

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