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1 March 2006 Performance of a laser communication system with acousto-optic tracking: an experimental study
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Laser communication systems hold great promise for broadband applications. This technology uses much higher-than-RF region of the spectrum and allows concentration of the signal within a very small spatial angle, thus offering unsurpassed throughput, information security, reduced weight and size of the components and power savings. Unfortunately, these intrinsic advantages do not come without a price: small beam divergence requires precise positioning, which becomes very critical at high bit rates. Complex motion patterns of the communicating platforms, resident vibrations, and atmospheric effects are known to cause significant signal losses through the mechanisms of the pointing errors, beam wander and other higher-order effects. Mitigation of those effects is achieved through the multiple means of fast tracking and wavefront control. In this paper we focus on the application of a beam steering technology and its effect on the communication performance of the system. We present the results of an experimental study of a laser communication link subjected to pointing distortions. These distortions are generated by a special disturbance element in the optical setup, which recreates specific operation environments with particular spectral characteristics. The acousto-optic technology is used to build an agile tracking system to assure the maximum signal reception in spite of the harsh operational conditions. The received communication signal is recorded and statistically analyzed to calculate the bit-error-rates. This paper presents the synthesis of a tracking system and the experimental results characterizing the communication performance under uncompensated pointing disturbance and with tracking.
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V. Nikulin, R. Khandekar, and J. Sofka "Performance of a laser communication system with acousto-optic tracking: an experimental study", Proc. SPIE 6105, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XVIII, 61050C (1 March 2006);


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