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Scalable & Low-Power Microwave Photonics for Flexible, Terabit Telecom Payloads & High-speed Coherent Inter-satellite Links (BEACON)
Start date: Oct 2, 2013, End date: Jun 1, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Telecom satellites are growing like giants employing multiple beams to provide high speed connectivity and broad coverage. Under exploding capacity requirements, vendors admit that a technology and payload architecture switch is mandatory. The new technology has to deliver practical, low-power and scalable components with high performance under harsh environment conditions. BEACON aims to provide this technology and disrupt the transition to multibeam Tb/s satellites. Addressing cost, performance and volume, BEACON invests on the right mix of 3 photonic technologies used in terrestrial telecommunications, i.e. GaAs, Si and doped fibres and combines them to deliver a compact optical beam-forming technology delivering the massive amount of bandwidth. BEACON develops ultra-linear GaAs Mach-Zehnder Modulators (MZM) exhibiting >75dB spurious free dynamic range, 15dB higher than conventional MZMs. MZMs will exhibit: up to 35GHz frequency operation matching Ka-band frequency plans and 1/2 the size of mainstream LiNbO3 MZMs. 6’’ GaAs wafers enable high volume production. BEACON integrates and co-packages 4xMZM arrays with new packaging method. BEACON develops the first scalable multi-core rad-hard erbium doped optical fibre amplifier (EDFA). The EDFA employs new rad-hard doped microstructured fibre and enabling: >50% electrical power consumption reduction than using conventional EDFAs and small form factor packaging. BEACON integrates an innovative photonic beamformer (BFN) using CMOS compatible silicon photonic fabrication together with Ge diodes. The BFN chip consumes <7.5-times less chip area than low-index contrast BFNs. It allows 4 orders of magnitude faster beamsteering. BEACON integrates the system with BFN control and antenna array to demonstrate that the technology can scale to Tb/s capacities with considerable savings in size/power against current kW consuming systems. Component space assessment will guide the technology towards fully space qualified systems.

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