12 September 2005 Acousto-optic pointing and tracking systems for free-space laser communications
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Abstract
Implementation of long-range laser communication systems holds great promise for high-bandwidth applications. They are viewed as a technology that in the nearest future will handle most of the "last mile" communication traffic for the individual subscribers, corporate offices, military, and possibly deep space probes. Indeed, lasers allow for concentration of energy within tightly focused beams and narrow spectral interval, thus offering high throughput, information security, weight and size of components and power requirements that could not be matched by RF systems. However, the advantages of optical communication systems come in the same package with several major challenges. In particular, high data rates should be complemented by high-precision wide-bandwidth position control of a laser beam. In many applications the ability to maintain a link is affected by the complex maneuvers performed by mobile communication platforms, resident vibrations, and atmospheric effects. The search for the most effective and reliable way to shape and steer the laser beam is an on-going effort. This paper is focused on the application of acousto-optic technology as an alternative to electro-mechanical devices. With realization that an acousto-optic Bragg cell is only a component of the entire communication system, which should perform complex tasks of acquisition, pointing, and tracking of the remote terminal, we present an attempt to consider this problem from the "systems" point of view.
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V. Nikulin, R. Khandekar, J. Sofka, G. Tartakovsky, "Acousto-optic pointing and tracking systems for free-space laser communications", Proc. SPIE 5892, Free-Space Laser Communications V, 58921C (12 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.617498; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.617498
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