CLEMSON - Professors Liang Dong and John Ballato have recently received a grant from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to investigate the use of advanced optical fibers for high power lasers. The MDA is charged with developing and fielding a Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) to protect the United States, as well as U.S. allies and friends from a ballistic missile attack. The MDA Ballistic Missile Defense layered approach includes sensors, directed energy systems, battle management, and command control elements that will engage threat missiles in all phases of flight, from boost and early intercept phases through midcourse into terminal phase. MDA efforts are focused on making the BMDS more robust against widening threats, and increasing capabilities to handle a broad range of unknown missiles, warheads, trajectories, and adversaries. MDA must have the ability to detect, track, identify and kill the ballistic missile.
In keeping with this charge to protect the nation from a ballistic missile attack, the MDA instituted the Missile Defense Agency Science and Technology Advanced Research (MSTAR) program to fund relevant advanced research at qualified accredited domestic colleges, universities or institutions of higher learning and to support training of future scientists and engineers in the field of missile defense. As part of the MSTAR program, Principal Investigator Dong and Co-PI Ballato will received approximately $800K over the next three years to investigate the feasibility and design of all-solid-photonic-bandgap fibers for use in singly-polarized high power lasers. Fiber-based lasers have a broad range of military speed-of-light defensive applications on air, land and sea platforms. Fiber-based lasers typically require less power and are more compact and lightweight than chemical, gas and other types of lasers; hence, fiber-based lasers can be used in a wide variety of applications and platforms and bring tremendous benefits to a variety of military operations. Fiber-based laser technology can also be used for many other types of applications including precision machining, optical communications, medical applications, and spectroscopy.