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An Extremely Low Power Quantum Optical Communication Link for Autonomous Robotic ExplorersOne concept for planetary exploration involves using many small robotic landers that can cover more ground than a single conventional lander. In addressing this vision, NASA has been challenged in the National Nanotechnology Initiative to research the development of miniature robots built from nano-sized components. These robots have very significant challenges, such as mobility and communication, given the small size and limited power generation capability. The research presented here has been focused on developing a communications system that has the potential for providing ultra-low power communications for robots such as these. In this paper an optical communications technique that is based on transmitting recognizable sets of photons is presented. Previously pairs of photons that have an entangled quantum state have been shown to be recognizable in ambient light. The main drawback to utilizing entangled photons is that they can only be generated through a very energy inefficient nonlinear process. In this paper a new technique that generates sets of photons from pulsed sources is described and an experimental system demonstrating this technique is presented. This technique of generating photon sets from pulsed sources has the distinct advantage in that it is much more flexible and energy efficient, and is well suited to take advantage of the very high energy efficiencies that are possible when using nano scale sources. For these reasons the communication system presented in this paper is well suited for use in very small, low power landers and rovers. In this paper a very low power optical communications system for miniature robots, as small as 1 cu cm is addressed. The communication system is a variant of photon counting communications. Instead of counting individual photons the system only counts the arrival of time coincident sets of photons. Using sets of photons significantly decreases the bit error rate because they are highly identifiable in the presence of ambient light. An experiment demonstrating reliable communication over a distance of 70 meters using less than a billionth of a watt of radiated power is presented. The components used in this system were chosen so that they could in the future be integrated into a cubic centimeter device.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Lekki, John
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Nguyen, Quang-Viet
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Bizon, Tom
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Nguyen, Binh
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Kojima, Jun
(Ohio Aerospace Inst. Brook Park, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
June 10, 2015
Publication Date
May 7, 2007
Subject Category
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence And Robotics
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command And Tracking
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA Infotech@Aerospace 2007 Conference and Exhibit(Rohnert Park, CA)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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