A Review of Phased Array Steering for Narrow-Band Electrooptical Systems

Paul F. McManamon, Philip J. Bos, Michael J. Escuti, Jason Heikenfeld, Steve Serati, Kuikai Xie, Edward A. Watson

Published in Proceedings of the IEEE Volume: 97, Issue: 6 (2009) https://doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2009.2017218


Nonmechanical steering of optical beams will enable revolutionary systems with random access pointing, similar to microwave radar phased arrays. An early approach was birefringent liquid crystals writing a sawtooth phase profile in one polarization, using 2π resets. Liquid crystals were used because of high birefringence. Fringing fields associated with voltage control required to implement the 2π resets have limited the efficiency and steering angle of this beam steering approach. Because of steering angle limitations, this conventional liquid crystal steering approach is usually combined with a large angle step-steering approach. Volume holograms, birefringent prisms or sawtooth-profile birefringent phase gratings, and circular-type polarization gratings are the large angle step steering approaches that will be reviewed in this paper. Alternate steering approaches to the combined liquid crystal and step-steering approach exist. Microelectromechanical system mirrors, lenslet arrays, electro-wetting, and a variable birefringent grating approach will be reviewed and compared against the conventional liquid crystal and step-steering approaches. Step-steering approaches can also be combined with these approaches. Multiple nonmechanical steering approaches are developing that will allow high efficiency steering, excellent steering accuracy, and wide fields of view.

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