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Proceedings Paper

An end-to-end demonstration of a receiver array based free-space photon counting communications link
Author(s): P. I. Hopman; P. W. Boettcher; L. M. Candell; J. B. Glettler; R. Shoup; G. Zogbi
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Paper Abstract

NASA anticipates a significant demand for long-haul communications service from deep-space to Earth in the near future. To address this need, a substantial effort has been invested in developing a free-space laser communications system that can be operated at data rates that are 10-1000 times higher than current RF systems. We have built an end-to-end free-space photon counting testbed to demonstrate many of the key technologies required for a deep space optical receiver. The testbed consists of two independent receivers, each using a Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode detector array. A hardware aggregator combines the photon arrivals from the two receivers and the aggregated photon stream is decoded in real time with a hardware turbo decoder. We have demonstrated signal acquisition, clock synchronization, and error free communications at data rates up to 14 million bits per second while operating within 1 dB of the channel capacity with an efficiency of greater than 1 bit per incident photon.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 September 2006
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 6304, Free-Space Laser Communications VI, 63040H (1 September 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.682845
Show Author Affiliations
P. I. Hopman, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
P. W. Boettcher, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
L. M. Candell, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
J. B. Glettler, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
R. Shoup, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
G. Zogbi, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6304:
Free-Space Laser Communications VI
Arun K. Majumdar; Christopher C. Davis, Editor(s)

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