Optical EngineeringEvaluation and implementation of cone tracking for free-space optical communication with a retromodulator
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Cone tracking is a well-known method to optimize the pointing of a beam, and has been reported previously in the case of direct-mode free-space optical communication links, using a beacon or a dedicated wavelength to carry the feedback. In a retro link, because the beam is reflected back to the transmitter, feedback data are locally available. We present here the results of an evaluation (both simulation and experiments) of the cone-tracking technique applied to a retro link and how the implementation can be optimized for this specific case. We show that, using only a small number of samples (as few as 16 with 625-Hz modulation frequency), we can retrieve the pointing error. We finally demonstrate cone tracking (a closed loop maintaining the beam center on the retroreflector) with modulation amplitude as low as 1% of the beam divergence.