The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative research proposals in the areas of coherent optical transmitter/receiver technology and phase preserving wideband nonlinear optical mixer technology in support of next generation tactical free-space optical communications. This development addresses the need for waveform, wavelength and symbol rate agile digital optical links providing increased capacity on demand, receiver sensitivity, link availability, and physical layer security. Proposed research should address novel transmitter/receiver and wavelength translation approaches for high-capacity coherent digital optical communications that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvement to the existing state of practice.
The objective of TACOTA is to develop and demonstrate the coherent optical modem and coherent band translation infrastructure necessary to produce robust high-capacity free-space optical communication links over multiple spectral bands. A key imperative is to advance optical communications in terms of (1) its use of phase information for providing scalable channel capacity and enabling digital channel compensation techniques and (2), offering a wide spectral range of operation for increased link availability and security and (3), easily providing for adaptive modulation formats (e.g. M-ary Phase-Shift Keying (PSK) and signaling rates depending on dynamically changing link requirements and channel conditions (e.g. link range, capacity, security, power and signal-to-noise (S/N) requirements). The anticipated optoelectronic component and module development attempts to lay the foundation for realizing the concept of a software-defined optical radio, similar in scope/features and compatible with the military software-defined Radio Frequency (RF) radio, i.e. the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS). The realization of this dynamic wideband optical transmission architecture will radically transform the military?s tactical and last mile communications capabilities as well as impact a number of high-resolution optical sensing and imaging missions of interest. However, communications is the principal focus of this development.
Advances in high-speed mixed-signal electronics, digital signal processing (DSP) and the general field of RF communications are key enablers for the practical realization of high-capacity coherent optical communication systems. Increasing electronic clock speeds and real-time DSP capability allows for high-speed multi-level phase/amplitude decision circuitry and real-time channel compensation algorithms to be implemented completely in the digital domain. This is true provided absolute phase and amplitude information is retained throughout the optical detection process, i.e. coherent detection. The RF communications community has long exploited the use of phase information for increasing and adaptively controlling link/network capacity as well as mitigating deleterious channel effects. TACOTA explores the potential for mimicking these RF communication capabilities within the optical domain.
Pushing further towards RF communications compatibility and flexibility, a multi-stage optical heterodyne architecture with Intermediate Frequency (IF) processing is of interest. Capitalizing on the wealth of high-speed optoelectronic infrastructure currently available, the 1550 nm telecommunications band is preferred for what will be termed the optical IF, where all In-Phase (I) and Quadrature (Q) baseband information (e.g. multiplexed voice, video and data) is optically processed. To provide the ?optical IF? functionality, a dual-polarization high-speed 1550 nm I/Q optical transmitter and polarization-diverse coherent receiver are required complete with high-speed encoder/decoder electronics (i.e. embedded Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC), Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) and DSP). The 1550 nm high-speed I/Q transmitter and balanced coherent receiver integrated with their associated driver electronics and DSP are highlighted in TACOTA. Successful offerors shall provide innovative integrated transmitter/receiver design concepts allowing for agile waveform/baud rate capability and real-time digital link calibration/compensation.
In addition to 1550 nm transmitter and receiver development, coherent band-translation technology allowing fast, high power intra-band (1530-1630 nm region) and inter-band (from 1550 nm to 500 nm and from 1550 nm to 3800 nm regions) wavelength translation for transmission channels well suited for these wavelengths is to be pursued. Employing phase-sensitive heterodyne mixing techniques for wideband optical frequency up-conversion and down-conversion, high-speed coherent optical modulation and demodulation is only required at a single 1550 nm wavelength, not at the channel transmission wavelengths. The development of efficient, phase-preserving optical mixers decouples the 1550 nm coherent modulation (common IF) from the optical transmission channel characteristics. To demonstrate this capability, complementary transmitter and receiver side (i.e. both up-conversion and down-conversion) nonlinear optical mixers for the selected wavelength bands of interest are highlighted in TACOTA. If properly implemented, this coherent wavelength hopping approach can provide increased link availability and physical layer security over conventional fixed wavelength free-space optical transmission approaches. To implement this multi-stage heterodyne architecture, phase-preserving, high-power wavelength conversion technology capable of translating I/Q modulated 1550 nm channels to visible or mid-IR wavelengths with high conversion efficiency is required. The 1550 nm, 500 nm and 3800 nm wavelength transmission bands have nominally been selected to demonstrate the utility of this unified RF/optical communications architecture representing fiber, water and air transmission channels, respectively. TACOTA solicits creative technical solutions with maximum optical modem flexibility and agility with real-time dynamic wavelength selection based on link/application requirements and channel characteristics.
As part of TACOTA, DARPA seeks innovative proposals in support of all of the following three areas of interest:
I. 1550 nm Coherent Optical Transmitter and Receiver Technology
TACOTA solicits coherent optical transmitter and receiver technology capable of providing free-space communications links utilizing high-speed spectrally efficient coherent waveforms. A dual-polarization transmitter and polarization-diverse balanced homodyne receiver are required.
Successful transmitter and receiver approaches shall each allow for integration of optics, optoelectronics, and mixed signal I/Q driving electronics with DSP control. The photonic and electronic ICs capable of producing and/or demodulating dual-polarization adaptive high capacity waveforms from ultra-sensitive BPSK to highly spectrally efficient M-ary PSK or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) at signaling rates of up to 40 Gbaud at program end are solicited.
II. Phase-Sensitive Wavelength Translation Technology
In parallel with the 1550 nm coherent optical transmitter/receiver development, TACOTA is interested in nonlinear optical mixer technologies for wavelength translation. Translated wavelength phase noise characteristics and scalability of the proposed wavelength translation approach in terms of output power and its ability to address multiple 1550 nm channels simultaneously will be important differentiators. Successful offerors will develop and demonstrate phase-sensitive translation for one or more of the following three wavelength translation scenarios:
(1) Within the 1530-1630 nm band (greater than 10 nm translation);
(2) Between the 1550/500 nm bands; and
(3) Between the 1550/3800 nm bands.
III. Application-based Link Demonstration
The goals and metrics for components developed in TACOTA are designed to achieve free-space tactical links in dynamic military environments that have dramatically improved system performance over existing technology. Aggregate data rates exceeding 100 Gb/s with uncorrected bit error rate (BER) of less than 0.001 are targeted for air-based transmission links of up to 100 km and exceeding 100 m for challenging underwater links. Offerors should identify their targeted applications and ensure that their proposed development goals are adequate for successful demonstration. Militarily useful applications that mandate increased performance over that cited in TACOTA are encouraged. Offerors should be cognizant that TACOTA is primarily a component development effort. As such, it is not anticipated that a large percentage of funding will be dedicated towards the technology demonstrations.
TACOTA offerors are strongly encouraged to submit innovative proposals that address the entire scope of the interest areas (i.e. coherent transmitter/receiver, nonlinear mixer(s), and an application based system demonstration). Teaming arrangements to cover this entire scope of TACOTA is highly encouraged, although not a requirement. Offerors that propose only transmitter/receiver concepts or only band-translation concepts will be considered, although a strong technology integration plan must be provided. In developing this technology integration plan, it is important to keep in mind that a primary objective of TACOTA is to show how coherent transmitter/receiver technology, in combination with phase-sensitive wavelength translation technology, can greatly enhance tactical military communication capabilities.
The selected performers will be required to deliver individual devices and modules that form transmitter, receiver and conversion blocks at appropriate intervals (Phase I and Phase II points) within the program to a DARPA-designated facility. Offerors are asked to submit a list and timetable of deliverables.
Additional information on these technology areas is provided in the Areas of Interest section of the BAA 05-36 Proposer Information Pamphlet referenced below.
The TACOTA program will consist of two Phases with Go Ahead critical milestones at the end of Phase I. This will be followed by a Phase II option to achieve the full performance targets. The length of Phase I and Phase II are left up to the offeror to propose based on time required to meet desired performance goals. Clearly stated, quantitative milestones at the end of each Program Phase are required. Offerors are strongly encouraged (Evaluation Criteria (3)) to pursue aggressive development schedules towards meeting the program goals in a most timely manner. Organizations wishing to participate in Phase II should include it as an option in their proposal. Multiple awards are anticipated. Collaborative efforts/teaming including different expertise such as, but not limited to, design, fabrication, integration and applications are encouraged, but not required. Cost sharing is not required and is not an evaluation criterion, but is encouraged where there is a reasonable probability of a potential commercial application related to the proposed research and development effort. Questions concerning this BAA may be directed to the technical POC for this effort, Dr. Steve Pappert, phone: (571) 218-4679, fax: (703) 696-2206, electronic mail: email@example.com .
Proposers must obtain a pamphlet entitled ?BAA 05-36, Technology for Agile Coherent Optical Transmission Architecture (TACOTA), Proposer Information Pamphlet? which provides further information on the objectives of the TACOTA BAA, the submission, evaluation, and funding processes, proposal formats, and other general information. This pamphlet may be obtained from the FedBizOpps website: http://www.fedbizopps.gov/, FedGrants website: http://www.fedgrants.gov, World Wide Web (WWW) at URL http://www.darpa.mil/ or by fax, electronic mail, or mail request to the administrative contact address given below. Proposals not meeting the format described in the pamphlet may not be reviewed.
In order to minimize unnecessary effort in proposal preparation and review, proposers are strongly encouraged to submit proposal abstracts in advance of full proposals. An original and nine (9) copies of the proposal abstract and two (2) electronic copies (i.e., 2 separate disks) of the abstract [in PDF (preferred), or MS-Word readable, each on a single 3.5 inch High Density MS-DOS formatted 1.44 Megabyte (MB) diskette, a single 100 MB Iomega Zip (registered) disk, or a CD-ROM] should be submitted. Each disk must be clearly labeled with BAA 05-36, offeror organization, proposal title (short title recommended), and Copy __ of 2. The proposal abstract (original and designated number of hard and electronic copies) must be submitted to DARPA/MTO, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714 (Attn: BAA 05-36) on or before 4:00 p.m., local time, Friday, June 3, 2005. Proposal abstracts received after this time and date may not be reviewed. Upon review, DARPA will provide written feedback on the likelihood of a full proposal being selected and the time and date for submission of a full proposal, which may differ from the originally published date below.
All proposers must submit an original and nine (9) copies of the full proposal as specified in the Proposer Information Pamphlet, along with two (2) electronic copies (i.e., two separate disks) must be submitted to DARPA/MTO, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714 (Attn: BAA 05-36) on or before 4:00 p.m., local time, Friday, July 22, 2005, in order to be considered during the initial round of selections; however, proposals received after this deadline may be received and evaluated up to one year from date of posting on FedBizOpps and FedGrants. File formats for the electronic copies shall be PDF and MS-Word-readable. Media for each copy may be a single CD-ROM, a single 100 Megabyte Iomega Zip (registered) disk, or a single 3.5-inch High Density MS-DOS formatted 1.44 Megabyte diskette. Each disk must be clearly labeled with BAA 05-36, proposer organization, proposal title (short title recommended), and Copy number __ of 2. Full proposals submitted after the due date specified in the BAA or due date otherwise specified by DARPA after review of proposal abstracts may be selected contingent upon the availability of funds. This notice, in conjunction with the BAA 05-36 Proposer Information Pamphlet, constitutes the total BAA. No additional information is available, nor will a formal RFP or other solicitation regarding this announcement be issued. Requests for the same will be disregarded. The Government reserves the right to select for award all, some, or none of the proposals received, and to make award without discussions. All responsible sources capable of satisfying the Government's needs may submit a proposal which shall be considered by DARPA. Input on technical aspects of the proposals may be solicited by DARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements. Non-Government technical consultants/experts will not have access to proposals that are labeled by their offerors as ?Government Only?. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Institutions (MIs), and Small Disadvantaged Businesses are encouraged to submit proposals and join others in submitting proposals; however, no portion of this BAA will be set aside for their participation due to the impracticality of reserving discrete or severable areas of research in TACOTA.
All administrative correspondence and questions on this solicitation, including requests for information on how to submit a proposal abstract or full proposal to this BAA, should be directed to one of the administrative addresses below; e-mail or fax is preferred. DARPA intends to use electronic mail and fax for correspondence regarding BAA 05-36. Proposals and proposal abstracts may not be submitted by fax or e-mail; any so sent will be disregarded. DARPA encourages use of the WWW for retrieving the Proposer Information Pamphlet and any other related information that may subsequently be provided.
Evaluation of full proposals will be accomplished through a technical review of each proposal using the following criteria, which are listed in descending order of relative importance: (l) overall scientific and technical merit, (2) potential contribution and relevance to DARPA mission, (3) offeror's ability and aggressiveness to propose and execute a challenging development schedule, (4) plans and capability to accomplish technology transition, (5) offeror's capabilities and related experience, and (6) cost realism. Note: cost realism will only be significant in proposals which have significantly under or over-estimated the cost to complete their effort.
The administrative addresses for this BAA are:
Fax: (703) 351-8616 (Addressed to: DARPA/MTO, BAA 05-36),
Electronic Mail: BAA05firstname.lastname@example.org
Mail: DARPA/MTO, ATTN: BAA 05-36
3701 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203-1714
This announcement and the Proposer Information Pamphlet may be retrieved via the WWW at URL http://www.darpa.mil/ in the solicitations area.
Who can apply:
Eligible functional categories:
Research and Technology Development
Technology for Agile Coherent Optical Transmission Architecture (TACOTA)
If you have problems accessing the full announcement, please contact:
Department of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Contracts Management Office