Ultrashort Pulse Optics Laboratory

In the May of 2013, a collaborative research venture between Dr. Stacey K. Vargas, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy and Tom Chaffee, CEO of Attochron, LLC lead to the creation of the VMI Ultrashort Pulse (USP) Optics Laboratory in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

In collaboration with scientists from Attochron, the VMI research team lead by Dr. Vargas is creating a revolutionary point-to-point optical wireless telecommunications link. The novel technology uses an ultrashort pulse laser (USPL) as the signal carrier in a free space optics system (FSO). The UPSL FSO™ link has the potential to provide signal speeds as fast as 10Gbps. The USPL FSO system is anticipated to remain available over distances of 1.25 kilometers (km) or greater making it an ideal option for cell tower backhaul, enterprise access, and similar last-mile customers.

In addition to a laboratory tabletop experimental set-up, two mock cell tower links have been established to test the UPSL link in free space, one which is 300 meters between Mallory Hall and the stadium press box and the other which is 700 meters between Mallory Hall and a rooftop in downtown Lexington. A longer link between VMI and downtown Lexington is being established.

A weather station consisting of a fog monitor, laser precipitation monitor and a Davis weather station has been created for the project. All equipment is mounted on the rooftop of Mallory Hall. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research loaned the fog monitor to VMI for the research. Dr. Tim Moore, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering, was in charge of mounting the equipment and is supervising the weather station operation.

Dr. Merce Brooke, associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy is in charge of interfacing the weather station equipment as well as other electronic equipment. He is also working on the data logging for the project.

Calmar Laser with custom design by Attochron and VMI. Gigahertz repetition rate, femtosecond pulsewidth.

OneFive Laser Megahertz repetition rate, femtosecond pulsewidth, milliWatts average power.

Cadets Participating in the Research
Jonathon Owney Capstone Research Fall 2014, Independent Study Spring 2015
Bennette Lynde Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative Summer 2014

Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, Center for Innovative Technology, with matching funds from Attochron
Federal Proposal Assistant Award, Center for Innovative Technology
VMI Grant-in-Aid of Research
VMI Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative

Sponsors generously providing equipment and resources

VMI Foundation
VMI Research Laboratories
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

USPL FSO™ is a trademark of Attochron, LLC; all rights reserved.