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Open AccessArticle

Temporal Encoding to Reject Background Signals in a Low Complexity, Photon Counting Communication Link

1
Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1RD, UK
2
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XJ, UK
3
CMOS Sensors & Systems Group, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JL, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Materials 2018, 11(9), 1671; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma11091671
Received: 14 August 2018 / Revised: 29 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 September 2018 / Published: 9 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue III-Nitrides Semiconductor Research in the UK and Ireland)
Communicating information at the few photon level typically requires some complexity in the transmitter or receiver in order to operate in the presence of noise. This in turn incurs expense in the necessary spatial volume and power consumption of the system. In this work, we present a self-synchronised free-space optical communications system based on simple, compact and low power consumption semiconductor devices. A temporal encoding method, implemented using a gallium nitride micro-LED source and a silicon single photon avalanche photo-detector (SPAD), demonstrates data transmission at rates up to 100 kb/s for 8.25 pW received power, corresponding to 27 photons per bit. Furthermore, the signals can be decoded in the presence of both constant and modulated background noise at levels significantly exceeding the signal power. The system’s low power consumption and modest electronics requirements are demonstrated by employing it as a communications channel between two nano-satellite simulator systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: LED; GaN; single-photon avalanche diode; optical communications; CubeSats LED; GaN; single-photon avalanche diode; optical communications; CubeSats
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Griffiths, A.D.; Herrnsdorf, J.; Lowe, C.; Macdonald, M.; Henderson, R.; Strain, M.J.; Dawson, M.D. Temporal Encoding to Reject Background Signals in a Low Complexity, Photon Counting Communication Link. Materials 2018, 11, 1671.

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