Next Generation Light Sources for Optical SatCom

This project aims to develop lasers and transmitters suitable for next generation optical satellite communications. Emphasis will be put on developing sources that can mitigate limitations of current telecom-based technology. Examples include developing sources in the mid-IR (3-5 um, 8-12 um), to minimize weather condition sensitivity.

Approaches to Mitigate Atmospheric Fluctuations

Mitigation of atmospheric fluctuations is an absolute necessity for the full benefits of high bandwidth (> 1 Tbs) satellite-based optical communications to be realized. For observational astronomy, the impact of atmospheric fluctuations is well-managed by the implementation of adaptive optics, which is now a mature technology. For satellite-based optical communications, the same solution is not sufficient to mitigate the impact of atmospheric fluctuations in the high turbulence regime, particularly for high bandwidth applications. In particular, a high degree of phase recovery is required in order to fully benefit from a large collection area while also enabling optical focusing to a diffraction-limited spot as required for high bandwidth coherent optical processing. In this project, we will develop new optical detection systems and signal processing approaches suitable for high bandwidth satellite-based optical communications.

Optical Satellite Communications Roadmapping

The roadmapping project aims at identifying the vision and key use cases for optical satcom in order to establish a reference end-to-end architecture. From a literature review of identified optical technologies, a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) will be determined and the technology gaps will be identified so that there is significant scientific progress towards implementing the vision at the end of the consortium life. This project will provide directions and recommendations to the OSC projects to ensure they are well aligned with the OSC objectives and the mandate of the HTSN program.

Optical Beam Forming for RF Phased Arrays

This project will address key issues encountered with conventional electronic beamforming networks (BFN) used in space-based Radio-Frequency phased array antennas, popular in recent low cost, large, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation projects. It will evaluate feasibility of using photonic integrated circuits to implement an innovative BFN architecture. A higher level of integration in photonic circuits leads to smaller BFN dimensions and lower cost. It will implement also true time delay within the BFN, which eliminates frequency specific behavior of beam shaping. Large bandwidth performances will be much improved over wide scan angles for operations in LEO.

Receivers for Optical Satellite Communications

This project aims to develop detectors and receivers suitable for next generation optical satellite communications. The project will explore the development of detectors to optimize size, weight, power, sensitivity of detectors that are suitable for coherent detection and WDM. Examples include high sensitivity high rate APDs, multi-channel SPADs, multispectral nanowire IR detectors, high sensitivity mid-IR detectors, and Kramers-Kronig coherent receivers.

Optical Phased Arrays

The aim of this project is to develop photonic structures and devices for integrated optical phased arrays. Two different steerable antenna schemes will be explored, namely two-dimensional arrays with short micro-antennas and one-dimensional arrays of long weakly radiating gratings. Antenna arrays will be implemented in silicon-on-insulator and silicon nitride platforms. During the project, design solutions for different antenna types will be evaluated in terms of key target parameters, including radiation efficiency, directionality, field divergence, and aperture size. Antenna arrays will be designed for experimental proof-of-concept demonstration of on-chip beam steering capabilities. System parameters including control complexity, power, linearity, bandwidth, and side lobe suppression will be evaluated during the design of the array. Selected optimized designs will be fabricated and experimentally evaluated.

AI-enabled Satellite Communication Networks

LEO satellite constellations will form a complex network with a very dynamic and 3-dimensional topology. Many of the network management tools created for ground networks are not suitable for this type of environment. This project will examine usage fo AI tools to support the operation of satellite constellation networks. Key processes to be optimized include distributed satellite handover management, data packet routing, mobility and IP address management. Learn more about this project by viewing this presentation.


AI-Enabled Communications Network
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Two-dimensional optical phase arrays for satellite communication

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Receivers for satellite communications

OSC Open House Jan 28, 2021


Satellite Canada Innovation Network

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Secretariat: Satellite Canada Innovation Network

SatCan is a not-for-profit organization working to advance Canadian global competitiveness in commercial space, technology and development. We work to support the Canadian space sector in many ways, such as:

  • Executing programs that provide direct support to commercial companies;

  • Managing consortia that work together to develop next generation space technology; and

  • Promoting Canada’s space industry on the world stage to demonstrate Canadian capabilities.

SatCan is a neutral third party that is positioned to deliver support and programmes available from public and private sources.

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