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Proceedings Paper

Single-photon counting detector scalability for high photon efficiency optical communications links
Author(s): Brian E. Vyhnalek; Jennifer N. Downey; Sarah A. Tedder
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Paper Abstract

For high photon-efficiency deep space or low power optical communications links, such as the Orion Artemis-2 Optical Communications System (O2O) project, the received optical signal is attenuated to the extent that single- photon detectors are required. For direct-detection receivers operating at 1.55 μm wavelength, single-photon detectors including Geiger-mode InGaAs avalanche photon diodes (APDs), and in particular superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) offer the highest sensitivity and fastest detection speeds. However, these photon detectors exhibit a recovery time between registered input pulses, effectively reducing the detection efficiency over the recovery interval, resulting in missed photon detections, reduced count rate, and ultimately limiting the achievable data rate. A method to overcome this limitation is to divide the received optical signal into multiple detectors in parallel. Here we analyze this approach for a receiver designed to receive a high photon efficiency serially concatenated pulse position modulation (SCPPM) input waveform. From measured count rate and efficiency data using commercial SNSPDs, we apply a model from which we determine the effective detection efficiency, or blocking loss, for different input signal rates. We analyze the scalability of adding detectors in parallel for different modulation orders and background levels to achieve desired data rates. Finally we show tradeoffs between the number of detectors and the required received optical power, useful for real link design considerations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 March 2020
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 11272, Free-Space Laser Communications XXXII, 112721A (2 March 2020); doi: 10.1117/12.2546513
Show Author Affiliations
Brian E. Vyhnalek, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. (United States)
Jennifer N. Downey, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. (United States)
Sarah A. Tedder, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11272:
Free-Space Laser Communications XXXII
Hamid Hemmati; Don M. Boroson, Editor(s)

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