Portable Test Equipment for Wavelength Division Multiplexed (WDM) Optical Interconnects

Navy SBIR 24.2 - Topic N242-080
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Pre-release 4/17/24   Opened to accept proposals 5/15/24   Closes 6/12/24 12:00pm ET    [ View Q&A ]

N242-080 TITLE: Portable Test Equipment for Wavelength Division Multiplexed (WDM) Optical Interconnects


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 portable light source and an optical power meter capable of simultaneously measuring the optical power in optical fiber cable at multiple wavelengths in the range of 850 nm to 1500 nm.

DESCRIPTION: Current airborne military (mil-aero) core avionics, electro-optic (EO), communications and electronic warfare systems require ever-increasing bandwidths while simultaneously demanding reductions in space, weight, and power (SWaP). The replacement of shielded twisted pair wire and coaxial cable with earlier generation, bandwidth-length product, multimode optical fiber has given increased immunity to electromagnetic interference, bandwidth, throughput, and a reduction in size and weight on aircraft. The effectiveness of these systems hinges on optical communication components that realize high-per-lane throughput, low latency, large-link budget, and are compatible with the harsh avionic environment.

In the future, data transmission rates of 100 Gbps and higher will be required. Substantial work has been done to realize data rates approaching this goal based on the use of multilevel signal coding; but multilevel signal encoding techniques trade off link budget and latency to achieve high digital bandwidth. To be successful in the avionic application, existing non-return-to-zero (NRZ) signal coding with large link budget and low latency must be maintained. The Navy requires advances in optical receiver designs that leverage novel photo-detector technology, semiconductor process technology, circuit designs, architectures, and packaging and integration techniques. One approach to meeting the 100 Gbps threshold utilizes wavelength division multiplexing in the 850 to 1050 nm shortwave wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM) band or the 1260 nm to 1400 nm coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) band. Traditional optical light sources and power meters cannot separate the power in each of the wavelengths. Portable support equipment is needed to quantitatively assess fiber-optic cable performance at discrete optical wavelengths in the SWDM and CWDM bands.

PHASE I: Design an optical system and instrumentation capable of simultaneously transmitting and measuring the power in each of the SWDM and CWDM wavelengths. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Finalize the optical, electrical, and mechanical design of the optical multiwavelength light source and power meter. Develop prototype devices for testing and evaluation by the Navy.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Collaborate with defense avionics industries, as well as support equipment companies to accelerate transition to production.

Commercial sector telecommunication systems, fiber-optic networks, and data centers will benefit from the development of the WDM-based test equipment that is portable. These applications will be able to easily test the performance of WDM-based links operating at a higher speed.


  1. Peterson, N.; Beranek, M. and Heard, E. "Avionic WDM LAN node utilizing wavelength conversion." 2014 IEEE Avionics, Fiber-Optics and Photonics Technology Conference (AVFOP), Atlanta, GA, United States, 11-13 November 2014. https://doi.10.1109/AVFOP.2014.6999425
  2. Petrilla, J.; Cole, C.; King, J.; Lewis, D.; Hiramoto, K. and Tsumura, E. "100G CWDM4 MSA technical specifications: 2km optical specifications." CWDM4 MSA, 2014. http://www.cwdm4- msa.org/files/CWDM4_MSA_Technical_Spec_1p0.pdf
  3. Kolesar, P.; King, J.; Peng, W.; Zhang, H.; Maki, J.; Lewis, D.; Lingle, R. and Adrian, A. "100G SWDM4 MSA technical specifications: Optical specifications." SWDM, 2017. https://www.swdm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/100G-SWDM4-MSA-Technical-Spec-1-0-1.pdf
  4. "SAE ARP5061A: Guidelines for testing and support of aerospace, fiber optic inter-connect systems." SAE, 16 August 2018. https://doi.org/10.4271/ARP5061A
  5. "MIL-PRF-28800 Rev. G: Test equipment for use with electrical and electronic equipment." Military and Government Specs & Standards, Naval Publications and Form Center (NPFC), 17 November 2021. https://global.ihs.com/doc_detail.cfm?&item_s_key=00255078&item_key_date=780114&input_doc_number=MIL%2DPRF%2D28800GG&input_doc_title=

KEYWORDS: Wavelength Division Multiplexing; coarse wavelength division multiplexing, CWDM; shortwave wavelength division multiplexing; SWDM; 100 Gbps; link budget support equipment


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Topic Q & A

6/03/24  Q. For the power measurement on a duplex cable system can we assume transmit and receive in each test module on both ends, i.e. two modules are required to characterize the link loss on both fibers?
   A. Yes, 2 modules are required to test fiber optic cables. One module typically operates as a light source, whereas the other module typically operates as a power meter.
5/23/24  Q. Can we assume the transmit and receive paths are separate (as per the CWDM4 and SWDM specifications) or is there any requirement/desire to have transmit and receive on the same fiber?
   A. Yes, assume that the transmit and receive paths are separate fibers.
5/23/24  Q. Are we measuring continuous wave (CW) light or will it be modulated (NRZ) and have sidebands?
   A. The test equipment for measuring optical loss should be CW (not modulated).
5/23/24  Q. Is there a preference for the number of channels? From the description it would appear at least 4 channels are desired.
   A. The preference today is 4 optical channels (850, 895, 940 and 985 nm with future growth to 1020 nm. Then a separate light source for CWDM. Preference is for reproducible launch condition to enable reproducible optical loss measurement of 50 micron core optical fiber links.
5/22/24  Q. What are maximum typical power levels expected to be transmitted and received?
   A. Maximum expected power level is 100 milliwatts
5/22/24  Q. Is there a requirement on the fiber optic connectors used besides the per connector loss requirement?
   A. Connectors are generally specified per SAE AS5675 and MIL-PRF-29504/4/5.
5/21/24  Q. 1. Is this project focused on sensing or communication?
2. Could you clarify what is the operating 'delta lambda' in this context?
   A. 1. The project is focused on communication.
2. Can question 2 be re-stated to clarify what is meant by “delta lambda” in this context?
05/8/24  Q. What is the fiber type for this project?
   A. 50 micron core multimode OM4 and OM5 fiber.

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