InGaAs Multiple Quantum Well Modulating Retro-Reflector for Free Space Optical Communications
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC
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Modulating retro-reflectors provide a means for free space optical communication without the need for a laser, telescope or pointer tracker on one end of the link. These systems work by coupling a retro-reflector with an electro-optic shutter. The modulating retro-reflector is then interrogated by a cw laser beam from a conventional optical communications system and returns a modulated signal beam to the interrogator. Over the last few years the Naval Research Laboratory has developed modulating retro-reflector based on corner cubes and large area Transmissive InGaAs multiple quantum well modulators. These devices can allow optical links at speed up to about 10 Mbps. We will discuss the critical performance characteristics of such systems including modulating rate, power consumption, optical contrast ratio and operating wavelength. In addition a new modulating retro-reflector architecture based upon cats eye retroreflectors will be discussed. This architecture has the possibility for data rates of hundreds of megabits per second at power consumptions below 100 mW.
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