Cascaded Offset Optical Modulator
A unique challenge in the development of a deep space optical SDR transmitter is the optimization of the ER. For a Mars to Earth optical link, an ER of greater than 33 dB may be necessary. A high ER, however, can be difficult to achieve at the low Pulse Position Modulation (PPM) orders and narrow slot widths required for high data rates. The Cascaded Offset Optical Modulator architecture addresses this difficulty by reducing the width of the PPM pulse within the optical modulation subsystem, which relieves the SDR of the high signal quality requirements imposed by the use of an MZM. With the addition of a second MZM and a variable time delay, all of the non-idealities in the electrical signal can be compensated by slightly offsetting the modulation of the laser. The pulse output is only at maximum intensity during the overlap of the two MZMs. The width of the output pulse is effectively reduced by the offset between MZMs. Measurement and analysis of the system displayed, for a 1 nanosecond pulse width, extinction ratios of of 32.5 dB, 39.1 dB, 41.6 dB, 43.3 dB, 45.8 dB, and 48.2 dB for PPM orders of 4, 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256, respectively. This approach is not limited to deep space optical communications, but can be applied to any optical transmission system that requires high fidelity binary pulses without a complex component. The system could be used as a drop-in upgrade to many existing optical transmitters, not only in free space, but also in fiber. The system could also be implemented in different ways. With an increase in ER, the engineer has the choice of using the excess ER for channel capacity, or simplifying other parts of the system. The extra ER could be traded for reduced laser power, elimination of optical amplifiers, or decreased system complexity and efficiency.
Fine-pointing Optical Communication System Using Laser Arrays
A new method is described for optical data transmissions from satellites using laser arrays for fine pointing of laser beams that use body pointing. It combines a small lens system and a VCSEL/Photodetector Array in a novel way to provide a fine pointing capability for laser beams that are pointed by body pointing of a CubeSat. As Fig. 1 shows, an incoming laser beam (green or blue, with rightward arrows), transmitted from a ground terminal, enters the lens system, which directs it to an element of the pixel array (gray rectangle). Each element, or pixel, consists of a VCSEL component/photodetector pair. The photodetector detects the incoming beam, and the VCSEL component returns a modulated beam to the lens system (green or blue, with leftward arrows), which sends it to the ground terminal. As the incoming beam changes direction, e.g., from the blue to the green incoming direction, this change is detected by the adjacent photodetector, and the laser paired with that photodetector is turned on to keep the outgoing laser beam on target. The laser beams overlap so that the returning beam continues to point at the ground terminal. The VCSEL component may consist of a single VCSEL or a cluster of VCSELs. Figure 2 shows the propagation of two overlapping laser beams. The system can very accurately point finely focused diffraction-limited laser beams. Also, simultaneous optical multiple access (OMA) is possible from different transceivers within the area covered by the laser array. For this electro-optical system, reaction times to pointing changes and vibrations are on the nanosecond time scale, much faster than mechanical fine pointing systems.
Shutterstock 223733998
Optical De-Multiplexing Method for QKD Encryption
Classical laser communication gimbals are coupled to 105um multimodal receiving fibers for the high-power transmission of data, fine pointing, and tracking. These fibers cannot be used in free space optical communication applications using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) since polarization state information encoded by QKD photons is not retained. To accommodate low energy QKD photons and high energy data streams necessary for encryption of optical links, the inventor adopted a space-and-wave (SAW) division de-multiplexing approach. The SAW division method uses a double clad fiber with a 9um core and a 105um 1st cladding. This arrangement captures 1590nm wavelength QKD photons in the core channel and a 1555.75nm wavelength data channel in the 1st cladding. By defining wavelength separation between 30-40nm, a single focusing lens can be used to focus only one wavelength to a diffraction limited spot (see figures included). Using this method, a QKD channel is focused to a diffraction limited spot on the 9um core of the double clad fiber. The chosen wavelength separation generates a defocused diffraction pattern with a hollow center, and with remaining optical power in concentric rings outside of the 9um core, yet inside the 105um core. The QKD signal is directed into the 9um core, and the data channel is coupled into the 105um secondary core for traditional data demodulation.
Stay up to date, follow NASA's Technology Transfer Program on:
facebook twitter linkedin youtube
Facebook Logo Twitter Logo Linkedin Logo Youtube Logo