Modulators for Laser Communication in Space

15th November 2021
Tom Anstee

LASER COMPONENTS supplies iXblue Photonics’ electro-optic lithium niobate (LiNbO3) modulators.  iXblue has a continuous presence in space across its Astrix product range of 3-axis fibre-optic gyroscopes (FOGs), opening the way to supply space grade components, such as passive and doped fibres, as well as phase and amplitude modulators.

The LiNbO3 modulators have a long-standing proven record of use in many applications (e.g. long-haul and radio over fibre communications) as well as distributed temperature sensors (DTS) where the modulators operate in harsh environmental conditions, and have been comprehensively and successfully qualified (e.g. Telcordia).

A unique combination of performance is offered making them prime candidates, not only to satisfy the optical system specifications, but also to meet the tough requirements of space operation.  Today, many embarked space photonic systems use light modulators as a key component to achieve intensity or phase modulation of various light sources at different operating wavelengths.  iXblue are very involved in space applications for telecommunication and inter-satellite telecommunication.

More than 200 modulators have been supplied for different flying users worldwide, either for big players or space agencies, and for LEO or GEO satellites.  We supply 850nm, 1064nm and 1550nm amplitude modulators and phase modulators as Breadboard, Engineering, Qualification and Flight models.

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