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Free-space optical transceiver technology

Discover how non-mechanical beamforming technology benefits both avionic and aerospace applications.

What is free-space optics?

Free-space optics or free-space optical communication (FSO) uses an optical carrier to establish a high-bandwidth, directional, and secure link between two points. Typically, these points would be difficult to physically connect through other means, for example due to their position in remote locations. Creating more conventional links would cost too much or create unacceptable security risks.

Applications of free-space optical communication

Free-space optical transceivers are being used for ground applications such as LiFi and 5G. They also offer a solution for space and avionic communication. Some examples are:

  • satellite-to-satellite links: geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) and low earth orbit (LEO)
  • satellite-to-ground links
  • airplane-to-ground links
  • drone networks

Free-space optical transceivers through integrated photonics

You can resort to several technologies for the development of free-space optical transceivers. But if you want to ensure their practical use in space applications, they need to be:

  • compact
  • low-power
  • ultra-reliable

Because of these considerations, integrated photonics is the most suitable technology. Integrated photonics allows you to combine all the necessary components in one integrated circuit and eliminating moving parts. That makes it possible to build an optical transceiver that’s robust enough to survive a launch. And it can withstand extremely harsh environments during the complete lifetime of a project.

Want to develop your free-space optical transceiver with a non-mechanical beamformer in integrated photonics technology? Imec’s hybrid optical beamforming platform supplies you with all the building blocks. And our experts are ready to talk about your challenges.

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