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Single-Photon Counting Detector Scalability for High Photon Efficiency Optical Communications LinksFor 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.

Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Vyhnalek, Brian E.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Downey, Jennifer N.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Tedder, Sarah A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
March 11, 2020
Publication Date
February 1, 2020
Subject Category
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command And Tracking
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
SPIE Photonics West(San Francisco, CA)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 277985.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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