Scott Bloom, ThermoTrex Corp.; and Eric Korevaar, Astro Terra
When telecommunications companies first looked for solutions to the overcrowded world of wired, electronic communication, coherent light and fiber optics were there. Fiber optics brought high-bandwidth communications without the electromagnetic interference common to coaxial and twisted pair cables. Now, fiber optic communications stand on the brink of yet another physical evolution -- keeping the laser and dumping the fiber.
Recent advances in laser diode output power and silicon avalanche photodiode technology -- combined with the planned deployment of global constellations of communications satellites and the need for more efficient communications in today's highly competitive marketplace -- have made free-space laser communications viable. Demonstrations of high-bandwidth, long-range systems under realistic operating conditions further validate free-space laser communication, showing that it can provide high-bandwidth, secure, inexpensive communications for a variety of applications.