Optical and Photonic Solutions
CACI’s advances in photonics technology, free-space optical (FSO) laser communications, sensing, and processing are transforming communications speed, efficiency, and security for many of the U.S. Government’s most critical missions – from the battlefield to space. Our Optical and Photonic Solutions team is focused on developing the most advanced photonics-based applications, such as optical modems and terminals; high-power sources for FSO communications and remote sensing; and systems for fixed or mobile, airborne, underwater, and space operations.
CACI has been designing, producing, manufacturing, and delivering complete FSO communication solutions to U.S. Government customers for various applications and missions for more than two decades. Our talented, multi-disciplinary team of physicists, material scientists, and optical, electrical, and mechanical engineers brings authoritative expertise on high-performing FSO communication capabilities for land, air, and space environments. Our experts are continuously researching and developing newer FSO capabilities for functions such as secure communications, search and identification, space exploration, autonomous vehicle operations, and more.
Using high-speed electro-optic modulator design, our FSO technologies are built to increase spectral efficiency by enabling dynamic tradeoffs between range and bandwidth. Our scintillation mitigation techniques deliver greater reliability across a wider range of conditions – enabling low probability of intercept and low probability of detection communications with reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) consumption demands compared to traditional radio frequency (RF) systems. With no RF spectrum allocation required, and inherent immunity to RF interference and jamming, our FSO experts develop and deliver communication systems that provide a significant advantage for our customers’ communications.
Our FSO communications, sensing, and processing solutions include high-power optical amplifiers, full optical modems, laser transmitting and receiving hardware, chip-scale photonics devices, and more. These next-generation all-platform optical payloads solve the toughest customer mission challenges in communications, sensing, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and radar applications.
CACI’s FSO technologies enable highly secure communications in RF-challenged, restricted, or denied environments. Optical carrier frequencies are 10,000 times higher than RF communications, meaning they can transmit more data with lower SWaP than comparable RF systems. Our FSO communications capabilities are customizable and available for space, airborne, and terrestrial mission applications. Our deep space modem processing capabilities deliver the latest advances in the coding and decoding of advanced algorithms for space operations and exploration missions. These advanced processing capabilities are used by NASA and other customers for beacon generation and modulation and deliver high-performance processing power with a reduced bus power draw for challenging deep space and on-orbit communications.
CACI’s laser remote sensing technology enables near-term airborne and space light detection and ranging (LiDAR) applications. LiDAR uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges and make digital 3D representations of surfaces, and CACI advances are transitioning this capability from one-of-a-kind sensors on dedicated platforms to widespread mission applications. Demand for these capabilities is growing in mission applications such as stand-off intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), where LiDAR applications are ideal for tasks such as wide-area surveillance and long-range object identification.
Photonic Processing Solutions
CACI’s optical signal processing experts develop solutions that leverage the unique capabilities of photonics technology to provide broadband, real-time sensing, and analysis of RF spectra from 0-100 gigahertz (GHz). Primarily among these is leveraging terahertz (THz) of bandwidth available in the optical domain to perform real-time, wide-band processing not possible in either the RF analog or digital domain. These technologies are finding use in areas such as SIGINT, high-resolution radar, and resilient communication systems that can operate safely in both congested and contested environments.
Our space systems, including the CrossBeam® system for satellite crosslinks, exemplify powerful FSO capability in a small, low-cost package. Our space technologies provide satellite crosslinks and bi-directional satellite-to-earth links via low complexity systems, minimizing SWaP and cost.
CACI offers several FSO technologies for air-to-air, air-to-ground, air-to-satellite, and air-to-sea bi-directional links. Internal beam steering components support a wide field of regard and utilize high bandwidth tracking to allow operation without a stabilized gimbal.
Our field-proven ground FSO systems are low cost, ruggedized for demanding missions, and feature customized designs for fixed and mobile applications. CACI’s core terrestrial FSO capability – the commercially available Nexus™-10G – is a fully ruggedized system that provides 10 Gbps data rates at ranges up to 20 km.
CACI provides undersea FSO communications for manned and unmanned vehicles, such as our Neptune FSO system – a compact, low-power, high data rate underwater optical communication system for any undersea environment, including littoral and deep ocean environments. The Neptune is the basis for our fully customizable underwater FSO communications systems, all consisting of a flexible laser transmitter coupled with a highly sensitive optical detection system.
Lighting the Future: How CACI is Revolutionizing Optical and Photonic Solutions
With decades of investment and research, CACI has built up deep expertise, capacity, and scale in a vital technology field for national security -- free space optical (FSO) communications and optical solutions. Linda Braun, Vice President of CACI's Optical and Photonics Systems, talks more about our advancements in this technology in defense, intelligence, and other national security missions needing secure, reliable, and high throughput communications in this article.