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Few-Mode Fiber Coupled Superconducting Nanowire Single-Photon Detectors for Photon Efficient Optical CommunicationsThe NASA Glenn Research Center's development of a high-photon efficiency real-time optical communications ground receiver has added superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) coupled with few-mode fibers (FMF). High data rate space-to-ground optical communication links require enhanced ground receiver sensitivity to reduce spacecraft transmitter constraints, and therefore require highly efficient coupling from fiber to detector. In the presence of atmospheric turbulence the received optical wave front can be severely distorted introducing higher-order spatial mode components to the received signal. To reduce mode filtering and mismatch loss and the resulting degradations to detector coupling efficiency, we explore the use of few-mode fiber coupling to commercial single-pixel SNSPDs. Graded index 20-µm few-mode fibers allow the commercial single pixel SNSPD's active area to couple with equal efficiency as single mode fibers. Here we determine detector characteristics such as count rate, detection efficiency, dark counts, and jitter, as well as detection efficiencies for higher-order fiber spatial modes. Additionally, we assess the laboratory performance of the detectors in an optical system which emulates future deep space optical communications links.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Vyhnalek, Brian E.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Tedder, Sarah A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Katz, Evan J.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Nappier, Jennifer M.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
May 27, 2019
Publication Date
February 2, 2019
Subject Category
Electronics And Electrical Engineering
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command And Tracking
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: SPIE Photonics West
Location: San Francisco, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: February 2, 2019
End Date: February 7, 2019
Sponsors: International Society for Optical Engineering
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 277985.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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