Press Release — December 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marie VanBuren
RL Associates Inc.
Yardley, PA
(215) 579-2300
mvanburen@rlassociatesinc.com

RL Associates, Inc. Awarded Their Fifth Patent

RL Associates, Inc. has been awarded a patent for a Volume Holographic Filter with Broad Acceptance Angle and Narrow Spectral Bandwidth.  This is the fifth patent awarded to RL Associates, the second for a volume holographic optical filter. 

Numerous state of the art detection systems rely on the ability to detect weak optical signals in the presence of significant unwanted background noise such as solar radiation (sun glare).  Available spectral filter technology is currently limited by poor signal to noise ratios when operated in the daylight, due to scattered returns from sunlight off the ocean surface.  Narrowband spectral filters are used to improve daytime performance by blocking returned signals outside the spectral band of the interrogation source.  However, many narrowband filters have the added disadvantage of restricting the system field of view. 

RL Associates has developed a new type of spectral filter composed of volume holographic optical elements (VHOE).  The filter, which utilizes two VHOEs allows for light to be collected from a broad range of angles while only allowing a very narrow spectral band of light to reach the detector.   This filter may be placed immediately before a detector, or before any other optical or signal processing devices to provide filtered input to such devices.

The first element is a volume holographic array written to accept a wide range of angles.  This element is written so that incoming light from many different angles is collimated so that it is directed to the second filter element, which will only pass a very narrow spectral band of light to the detector.  This ability to pass such a narrow spectral band allows for increased signal to noise ratios, which in turn allows for increased detection sensitivity when searching for weak signals.  This filter can be used for applications requiring different spectral bandwidths by using holographic elements written under different geometric configurations.

This innovation has been funded through the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team and the Office of Naval Research.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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Press Release — July 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marie VanBuren
RL Associates Inc.
Yardley, PA
(215) 579-2300
mvanburen@rlassociatesinc.com

Press Release for Multispectral Imager Contract

July 2010 - RL Associates has been awarded a 3 year, $1 million contract from the US Navy for an Electro-Optic, Infrared, Multi Spectral Imager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Multiple agencies within the DOD have identified the need for reliable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) techniques capable of monitoring a wide variety of high interest situations and targets. Multi-Spectral Imagers (MSIs) function by splitting visible wavelength light into different spectral bands which are imaged on separate sensors. These different spectral ‘channels’ are then compared for anomalies. Applications of multi-spectral imaging are quite broad, and include anti-submarine warfare, mine counter measures, detection of improvised explosive devices, concealed target detection, and search and rescue.

Existing MSI hardware consists, in part, of spectral bandpass filters for each channel, with many systems using separate optical apertures for each channel as well. These elements contribute greatly to the overall size of the system, which of course increases with the number of desired channels. The result is that the size of most MSIs exclude them from use on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with restricted payload allowances. RL Associates, Inc. is addressing the problem of MSI size reduction by using volume holographic optical elements (VHOEs). This volume holographic beamsplitter is being used to replace the separate filter elements on an existing MSI, while allowing a shared aperture and lens system to be used for all sensors, resulting in a significant size and weight saving for the MSI unit.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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Press Release — July 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marie VanBuren
RL Associates Inc.
Yardley, PA
(215) 579-2300
mvanburen@rlassociatesinc.com

Press Release for NIR Lidar for Aircraft External Hazard Mitigation

RL Associates has been awarded a 16 month, $150,000 contract from NASA to further our research pertaining to a near infrared Lidar aircraft external hazard mitigation system.  Within the next 20 years, the FAA expects air traffic operations to increase by 150-250%.  To meet the demands of this high traffic environment, the Next Generation of Aviation Transportation Systems (NGATS/“NexGen”) will require significantly improved hazard mitigation systems both for ground-level and in-flight hazards.  To this end, RL Associates began researching how our patented FireLidar system, a small, hand-held lidar system capable of imaging through smoke at a fire scene, could be adapted for use with aviation.  Specific capabilities that are viewed as critical to the success of NexGen are Equivalent Vision Operations, which will allow the system to maintain visual flight rule capacities in instrument flight conditions, and Broad-Area Precision Navigation, which allows precise navigation anywhere in the airspace, including precision landing at any airport.  The RL Associates Hazard Mitigating Lidar System addresses both of these capabilities by placing a high priority on rapid and accurate hazard detection.

Using a polarization discriminating imaging technique, the system is capable of imaging through a multitude of airborne obscurants, such as smoke, fog, haze, or light rain to identify targets ahead, as well as providing an early warning of in-flight hazards, primarily icing conditions in clouds.   This NIR Lidar system is designed to operate around 1.5 mm for maximum eye-safety, even when used from the ground.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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Press Release — July 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marie VanBuren
RL Associates Inc.
Yardley, PA
(215) 579-2300
mvanburen@rlassociatesinc.com

Press release for Lidar receiver contract

RL Associates, Inc. has been awarded a 2 year, $750,000 contract by the US Navy to
construct, test, and deliver the major components of a high altitude antisubmarine warfare (ASW) Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system, including a narrowband, wide field of view, large aperture receiver using volume holographic optical elements (VHOE) for spectral filtering and a line-narrowed laser system.  High altitude LIDAR systems are currently limited by available spectral filter technology.  These systems, which utilize an interrogation source of a visible wavelength, have poor signal to noise ratios when operated in the daylight, due to scattered returns from sunlight off the ocean surface.  Narrowband spectral filters are used to improve daytime performance by blocking returned signals outside the spectral band of the interrogation source.  However, many narrowband filters have the added disadvantage of restricting the system field of view.  We are constructing and will deliver a new type of Lidar receiver where spectral filtering components, composed of a compound volume hologram, will replace the typical relay lens elements, and perform beam shaping directly to the detector.  The receiver is being constructed to have a broad acceptance angle while maintaining an extremely narrow spectral bandpass of 1 Å or less.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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PhillyBurbs.com — May 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
John Anastasi
Staff Writer
(215) 949-4170
janastasi@phillyburbs.com

RL Associates’ Underwater Innovation

A technology company is creating an optical filter that could dramatically improve a system the U.S. Navy uses to detect underwater objects, like mines and submarines.And the 12-year old company – RLAssociates, Inc. – is relocating from the city of Chester to Bucks County, where it will continue its government-funded research and development work.

The Navy uses a system called LIDAR to spot objects submerged in water. It is similar to radar, but instead of emitting radio waves for tracking purposes, it uses light in the form of a laser beam.

“Radio waves don’t go through water, but certain colors do,” explains Rich Billmers, who runs RL Associates with his wife Liz.

LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. Its systems are attached to airplanes and used to send beams of light down into water. When it hits something – the ocean floor or some other object – it sends the data back to the plane.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration uses LIDAR to map shoreline sections of the ocean floor, according to its Web site. But, the Navy is interested in using it to locate submerged objects.

The problem, Billmers said, is that LIDAR systems can’t be effectively used during daylight hours because the natural light reflecting off the water causes problems with the data. Billmers believes his company can construct a device that can filter out the natural light and allow the laser system to do its job during the day as well as in the darkness.

“If we’re completely successful and (the Navy) has a successful daytime test, we can sell it back to the government and get it into the fleet,” Billmers said.

Other filters exist, Billmers said, but he believes he can make one that has a narrower wavelength, which would filter out more light, and a broader angle, which would allow it to scope a larger section and each pass.

The Navy has given RL Associates, a 10-employee operation, about$1 million over the last two years to develop the filter through the government’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

Billmers said a prototype that includes the filtered scope and the recording system should be ready next summer. The package could sell for about $100,000 – less if the Navy bought in bulk.

A Navy official with knowledge of RL Associates’ work declined to comment because he was not authorized to speak with the press, but confirmed that RL Associates had received Small Business Innovation Research funding for its work.

Billmers lives in Middle town and worked as a physicist at the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster until it closed in 1996. Later that year, he founded RL Associates in Chester to continue some of the work he was doing at the NAWC site.

“I wanted to move closer to where I live,” said Billmers.

RL Associates has leased 1,900 square-feet of office space in Lower Makefield and purchased another 1,900square feet of space that will be needed when the consolidation of operations is finished.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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Press Release — September 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marie VanBuren
RL Associates Inc.
Yardley, PA
(215) 579-2300
mvanburen@rlassociatesinc.com

RL Associates, Inc.  to be Honored as Tibbetts Award Winner

Washington, D.C. — RL Associates Inc. of Chester, PA has been selected as one of the winners of the 2007 Tibbetts Awards. RL Associates Inc. will receive the award on Oct. 10 at the Westin Washington, located at 1400 M Street NW in Washington, D.C.

Named for Roland Tibbetts—the person acknowledged as the father of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program—these prestigious, national awards are made annually to those small firms, projects, organizations and individuals judged to exemplify the very best in SBIR achievement.  RL Associates, Inc. is one of 55 companies in the U.S. to receive this award.  They were selected from over 4,000 companies that receive contract and grants under the SBIR Program each year.

RL Associates, Inc. was founded in 1996 and has quickly emerged as a leader in the field of volume holographic optical elements.  Dr. Richard Billmers, VP/CTO brings almost 20 years of experience in the fields of electro-optics and Lidar technologies.  The 1997 award of RL Associates’ first SBIR contract from the Navy allowed him to found RL Associates, Inc.  Dr. Billmers has built on that foundation and advanced the state of the art in both holographic filter technology and its application to real world systems. 

The SBIR program has allowed RL Associates to expand from one self-employed individual, to a vibrant corporation with a Board of Directors, stock holders, 10 employees, and 3 offices.  Without SBIR funding RL Associates would not have grown and thrived as it has.  The SBIR program has allowed the Navy to request research tailored directly to its needs, to which RL Associates has responded successfully.  The SBIR program is responsible for not only the technological innovations developed with its funding, but also for the economic impact RL Associates, Inc has made in the community, through new hires, summer internships and co-op positions.  The SBIR programs have provided a rich training ground to advance the studies of students and interns working on SBIR-funded projects at RL Associates.  This will lead to future technological breakthroughs as these students graduate and continue working in these fields.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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Press Release — June 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marie VanBuren
RL Associates Inc.
Yardley, PA
(215) 579-2300
mvanburen@rlassociatesinc.com

Press release for Navy filter project

RL Associates, Inc. has been awarded a 2 year, $1 million contract by the US Navy to deliver a prototype of a Wide Field of View, Narrowband Holographic Optical Filter for Improved Spectral Filtering in High Altitude Antisubmarine Warfare Systems. This ASW system involves the detection of weak optical signals in the presence of significant unwanted background noise such as solar radiation. The filters presently available have either a narrow linewidth OR a wide field of view. The narrow linewidth allows the detector to filter out the unwanted solar light, while allowing only the laser return. This however, drastically reduces the field of view, making the searching of a large area of ocean extremely difficult. The RL Associates Inc. filter is able to filter out the unwanted background light, like the sun, without sacrificing field of view. This will allow the Navy to use its anti-submarine warfare system around the clock. At present, the system, without the RL Associates Inc. filter, has significant limitations operating in sunlight, as the reflections of the sun off the water blind the detector and make the system useless. The filter is being constructed in such a way as to ensure the final result will be functional within the current ASW system, thus saving the cost of modifying the ASW system.

RL Associates is expecting to be awarded a 2nd contract from the US Navy for a Mulit-spectral Beamsplitter within the next month. This also will be a 2year, $1million contract.

About RL Associates Inc.
RL Associates, Inc. was established in 1996 to conduct research/development, design,
and prototyping in areas of electro-optics and laser spectroscopy. Our strengths reside in experimental expertise coupled with a well-equipped laboratory. We contribute technological advances in two highly specialized areas of electro-optics: laser radar systems and optical design.

RL Associate’s Research and Development efforts have been sponsored by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs at the Naval Air Systems Team, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security.

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  1. December 2010 | RL Associates, Inc. Awarded Their Fifth Patent
  2. July 2010 | Multispectral Imager Contract
  3. July 2010 | NIR Lidar for Aircraft External Hazard Mitigation
  4. July 2009 | Lidar Receiver Contract
  5. May 2009 | RL Associates’ Underwater Innovation
  6. September 2007 | RL Associates, Inc. Honored as Tibbetts Award Winner
  7. June 2007 | Navy Filter Project