Modal filters in the ≈10-μm spectral range have been implemented as planar dielectric waveguides in infrared interferometric applications such as searching for Earth-like planets. When looking for a small, dim object (“Earth”) in close proximity to a large, bright object (“Sun”), the interferometric technique uses beams from two telescopes combined with a 180° phase shift in order to cancel the light from a brighter object. The interferometer baseline can be adjusted so that, at the same time, the light from the dimmer object arrives at the combiner in phase. This light can be detected and its infrared (IR) optical spectra can be studied. The cancellation of light from the “Sun” to ≈106 is required; this is not possible without special devices — modal filters — that equalize the wavefronts arriving from the two telescopes.

Currently, modal filters in the ≈10-μm spectral range are implemented as single-mode fibers. Using semiconductor technology, single-mode waveguides for use as modal filters were fabricated. Two designs were implemented: one using an InGaAs waveguide layer matched to an InP substrate, and one using InAlAs matched to an InP substrate. Photon Design software was used to design the waveguides, with the main feature all designs being single-mode operation in the 10.5- to 17-μm spectral range. Preliminary results show that the filter’s rejection ratio is 26 dB

This work was done by Alexander Ksendzov, Daniel R MacDonald, and Alexander Soibel of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-44457

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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