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Real Time Photon-Counting Receiver for High Photon Efficiency Optical CommunicationsWe present a scalable design for a photon-counting ground receiver based on superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPDs) and field programmable gate array (FPGA) real-time processing for applications to space-to-ground photon starved links, such as the Orion EM-2 Optical Communication Demonstration (O2O), and future deep space or low transmitter power missions. The receiver is designed to receive a serially concatenated pulse position modulation (SCPPM) waveform, which follows the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) Optical Communications Coding and Synchronization Red Book standard. The receiver design uses multiple individually fiber coupled, 80% detection efficiency commercial SNSPDs in parallel to scale to a required data rate, and is capable of achieving data rates up to 528 Mbps. For efficient fiber coupling from the telescope to the array of parallel detectors that can be scaled both to telescope aperture size and the number of detectors, we use either a single mode fiber (SMF) photonic lantern or a few-mode fiber (FMF) photonic lantern. In this paper we give an overview of the receiver system design, the characteristics of the photonic lanterns, the performance of the SNSPDs, and system level tests. We show that 40 Mbps can be received using a single SNSPD, and discuss aspects for scaling to higher data rates.
Document ID
Document Type
Vyhnalek, Brian E.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Nappier, Jennifer M.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Tedder, Sarah A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
January 2, 2020
Publication Date
October 15, 2019
Subject Category
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command And Tracking
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
IEEE International Conference on Space Optical Systems and Applications(Portland, OR)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 405034.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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