Researchers, including one of Indian origin, have recently demonstrated the most complex 2-D optical phased array ever.
The array, which has dimensions of only 576 micrometre x 576 micrometre, roughly the size of the head of a pin, is composed of 4,096 (64 x 64) nanoantennas integrated onto a silicon chip.
The key to this breakthrough by DARPA researchers was developing a design that is scalable to a large number of nanoantennas, developing new microfabrication techniques, and integrating the electronic and photonic components onto a single chip.
"Integrating all the components of an optical phased array into a miniature 2-D chip configuration may lead to new capabilities for sensing and imaging," Sanjay Raman, program manager for DARPA's Diverse Accessible Heterogeneous Integration (DAHI) program, said.
"By bringing such functionality to a chip-scale form factor, this array can generate high-resolution beam patterns - a capability that researchers have long tried to create with optical phased arrays.
"This chip is truly an enabling technology for a host of systems and may one day revolutionize LADAR in much the same way that ESAs revolutionized RADAR. Beyond LADAR, this chip may have applications for biomedical imaging, 3D holographic displays and ultra-high-data-rate communications," he said.
The study has been published in the journal Nature. (ANI)