November 23, 2020
Photons Canada news

Military Standards for Photonic Components

In 2012 in the article “Optical Standards: US optics standards need change” that appeared in the December issue of Laser Focus World” by David Aiken the writer states that “US organizations are donating their expertise not only to develop a new set of national optics standards but to review and ballot ISO standards as well, ensuring that the US optics industry maintains its seat at the international table.”

“In the US photonics industry, most of our standards-such as the format of our optics drawings, the specification of roughness, and the ever contentious and misunderstood scratch-and-dig specification-began as top-down standards from the US military.” the article continues.

The trend observed is that “Increasingly, though, these top-down standards are being replaced by voluntary industrial standards, which are controlled not by the government or the military but by industry associations and organizations. And rather than being proclamations of the right way to do things, they are more often documentation of the best standard practices in the industry.”

The issue that they are trying to address is that “more than 7000 military specifications have been canceled.Of the 55 military specifications that relate to optical products, half have been canceled and one-quarter have been declared inactive.Inactive specifications can be used for existing procurement contracts but not for new ones.”

Military standards nevertheless are necessary since military equipment and components must perform in harsh conditions and must be tested accordingly. Companies that would like to sell to the military have to be aware of them and prove compliance.

In the article “Optical technology: at the speed of light” from 2011 by Courtney E. Howard she showcases the benefits of optical components. “Optical components and systems benefit aerospace and defense applications with high speed, low weight, and increased security.”

They are attractive “for airborne applications, ranging from a flight-critical databus to a video or sensor link, given the desire for the reduction of SWaP, ease of installation, and EMI immunity,Powers(Gregory Powers, market development manager at TE Connectivity Ltd. in Seattle (Tyco Electronics was renamed TE Connectivity Ltd. 2011)says. In ground-based applications-such as secure bunker-to-bunker communications, electro-optic (EO) sensor mast-to-control station links, or RF over fiber antennae links-the advantage of optics over distance often is the deciding factor, followed by EMI immunity, security, and reduced weight.”

Still there remain challenges to be addressed and a lot of R&D is taking place in the RF over fiber in Canada. Photons Canada is planning to host a Workshop in January 2021 on this topic.



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