Multibeam Radio Frequency Photonic Beamformer Using a Multi-Signal Slow Light Time Delay Unit

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Multi-beam Radio Frequency Photonic Beamformer using a Multi-Signal Slow Light Time Delay Unit

Princeton Docket # 14-3049


Researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University have developed a multi-beam simultaneous radio frequency (RF) photonic beamformer, focusing on the beamformer architecture, integrating a novel multi-beam slow time delay unit (TDU).  A method of filtering radio frequency signals in the spatial and temporal domains using optics is achieved.


Photonic RF beamformers can provide powerful radar, sensing, and communication capabilities to communication systems with tactical advantages, including immunity to electromagnetic interference, squint-free operation, and increased sensitivity.  Multi-beam beamformers can enable multi-target tracking, comprehensive reconnaissance, and interference mitigation.  Photonic RF beamformers are important for power and weight-sensitive platforms, such as unmanned aircraft systems and ground troops.  Additionally, there are civilian wireless communications applications, such as mobile cell phone towers, where processing multiple signals simultaneously from different directions can be conducted with just one beamformer system.



•       Radar, sensing, and communication

•       Unmanned aircraft systems

•       Communication arrays

•       Use in existing wireless networks and mobile cell phone towers for processing multiple signals simultaneously



•       Reduced cost, size, weight, and power (C-SWaP)

•       Only one piece of hardware

•       Integrated architecture with multi-beam RF beamformer

•       Delay multiple optical signals

•       Filter radio frequency signals in spatial and temporal domains


Key Words

Wireless communication, photonic beamformer, wireless network, radio frequency, multi-target tracking, signal processing, unmanned aircraft systems, C-SWaP, radar, sensing, spatiotemporal control, optics



John Chang, Matthew Chang, and Paul R. Prucnal, Ph.D.


Faculty Inventor

Paul R. Prucnal, Professor of Electrical Engineering


Paul Prucnal received an A.B. degree from Bowdoin College, Summa Cum Laude, with Highest Honors in Math and Physics, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  He then received M.S., M.Phil., and Ph. D. degrees from Columbia University, where he was elected to the Sigma Xi honor society.  He was an Assistant and then tenured Associate Professor at Columbia from 1979 until 1988, when he joined Princeton as a Professor of Electrical Engineering.  He has held visiting faculty positions at the University of Tokyo and University of Parma.


From 1990 to 1992, Professor Prucnal served as the Founding Director of Princeton's Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials, and is currently the Director of the Center for Network Science and Applications.  He is widely recognized as the inventor of the "Terahertz Optical Asymmetric Demultiplexer," an ultrafast all-optical switch, and he has conducted seminal research in the areas of all-optical networks and photonic switching.  His pioneering research on optical CDMA in the mid-1980's initiated a new research field, where more than 1000 papers have now been published worldwide.  With support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the 1990's, his group was the first to demonstrate an all-optical 100 gigabit/sec photonic packet switching node and optical multiprocessor interconnect.  His recent work includes the investigation of linear and nonlinear optical signal processing techniques to provide high-speed data confidentiality in communications networks. 


Professor Prucnal has published over 250 archival journal papers and holds 17 patents.  He is an Area Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Communications for optical networks, and was Technical Chair and General Chair of the IEEE Topical Meeting on Photonics in Switching in 1997 and 1999, respectively.  He is a Fellow of IEEE with reference to his work on optical networks and photonic switching, a Fellow of the OSA, and a recipient of the Rudolf Kingslake Medal from the SPIE, cited for his seminal paper on photonic switching.  In 2006, Professor Prucnal was awarded the Gold Medal from the Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Optics from Comenius University in Slovakia, for his contributions to research in photonics.  In 2004, 2006 and 2008, he received Princeton Engineering Council Awards for Excellence in Teaching, in 2006 received the University Graduate Mentoring Award, and in 2009 the Walter Curtis Johnson Prize for Teaching Excellence in Electrical Engineering, as well as the Distinguished Teacher Award from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.  He is editor of the acclaimed book, "Optical Code Division Multiple Access: Fundamentals and Applications," published by Taylor and Francis in 2006.


Intellectual Property Status


Patent applications are pending.  Princeton is seeking industrial collaborators for further development and commercialization of this technology.




Michael Tyerech

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-6762•


Sarah Johnson

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing •





Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Chris Wright
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Paul Prucnal
Matthew Chang
John Chang
Opto-Electronics/ELE ENG