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The Most Sensitive Optical Receivers Yet for Space Communications

2 Oct 2020, 12:44 UTC
The Most Sensitive Optical Receivers Yet for Space Communications
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The experimental setup used in the lab to emulate a deep space data transmission link. (Credit: Yen Strandqvist)

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Charlmers University of Technology) — Communications in space demand the most sensitive receivers possible for maximum reach, while also requiring high bit-rate operations. A novel concept for laser-beam based communications, using an almost noiseless optical preamplifier in the receiver, was recently demonstrated by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

In a new paper published in the scientific journal Nature: Light Science & Applications, a team of researchers describes a free-space optical transmission system relying on an optical amplifier that, in principle, does not add any excess noise – in contrast to all other preexisting optical amplifiers, referred to as phase-sensitive amplifiers (PSAs).

The researchers’ new concept demonstrates an unprecedented receiver sensitivity of just one photon-per-information bit at a data rate of 10 gigabits per second.

“Our results show the viability of this new approach for extending the reach and data rate in long-distance space communication links. It therefore also has the promise to help break through the present-day data-return bottleneck in deep-space missions, that space agencies around the world are suffering from today,” says Professor Peter Andrekson, head of ...

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