Laser amplifier for laser-based communication in space

23 March 2021

As part of a study for the European Space Agency (ESA), scientists at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) work on a laser amplifier in the range between 1000 nm and 1100 nm that could be used for laser-based communication in space in the future.

ESA's HydRON project's long-term goal is to build an all-optical communications network that will enable transmission rates in the terabit per second range. This will require satellites with laser terminals containing 10 or more optical channels.

Scientists from the Solid State Lasers Group at the LZH will develop the necessary amplifier for this purpose. The challenge: The amplifier must achieve a specific minimum efficiency to be later used on satellites. The scientists can build on their experience in fiber amplifier development for gravitational wave detection in the development.

As part of the study, the LZH is currently investigating how lasers could amplify the signals of an all-optical communication because the amplification would be the basis for laser-based satellite communication.

Part of the contract is also to evaluate the system concerning space suitability. This limits the choice of the components to be used. Therefore, in case of doubt, LZH tests components for their space compatibility during the development.