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Projects

System implementation of the silicon optical phased arrays

The aim of this project is to investigate on the array designs of dense 2-dimensional nano-antennas and to provide an optimized system implementation of the integrated optical phased arrays (OPA). The far-field radiation pattern of the OPA array is formed by the coherent superposition of the radiation of each individual nano-antenna. Leveraging on our existing simulation and design work on silicon waveguide nano-antennas, we plan to design the antenna spacing and 2D configuration to achieve the optimized far-field radiation pattern with the best sidelobe suppression. We also plan to realize a dense array of a 100-500-antenna 2-dimensional OPA system for an experimental proof-of-concept demonstration.

An AI-enabled testbed for satellite mega-constellations: From simulator to networks innovation accelerator
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Private companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb, and Telesat are launching satellite mega-constellations to provide low-latency and high-throughput Internet access anywhere on Earth. Relying on inter-satellite optical links and satellite onboard computation capabilities, it is possible to conform resource-sharing satellite networks that efficiently deliver traffic while meeting the quality of service required by heterogeneous demands. However, since the conditions in space are highly dynamic and time-varying, it is not efficient to use traditional routing and transport protocols that were designed for stable terrestrial networks. In addition, the lack of access to realistic experimentation platforms limits the development, testing, and evaluation of innovative solutions. Therefore, this project proposes the development of a testbed to evaluate and demonstrate novel routing and transport schemes specifically designed for satellite mega-constellations. In particular, and as a distinctive feature, the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques is foreseen to cope with the conditions imposed by the highly dynamic space environment.

Mitigation of Atmospheric Turbulence in Optical Downlinks Using Machine Learning Assisted Algorithms and Device Designs

The project will advance two new commercializable approaches to mitigate effects of atmospheric turbulence on satellite optical downlinks. Intensity based compressive sensing will be implemented for both acquisition/tracking and wavefront sensing. In collaboration with Optiwave, this project will design and prototype the first integrated on-chip wavefront sensing/correction for optical communication systems. Artificial intelligence (machine learning) will be exploited heavily to explore the large design space, as needed to optimize the performance of compact photonic integrated circuits with subwavelength features. Machine learning methods will also be implemented to train and subsequently control the phase retrieval and correction systems in both approaches. These approaches will be validated in the laboratory and/or by testing their performance with real data that will be obtained using the MDA optical ground receiver. This exciting and innovative project will deliver scalable, cost-effective, and robust solutions to atmospheric turbulence which will enable high speed optical satellite downlinks throughout Canada.

Mid-infrared optical communication testbed for weather-resistant optical satcom

The project is to develop a testbed to demonstrate a link to an optical ground station with a high-altitude platform (HAP). The ground-to-balloon optical links will create C-band     (1550 nm) and novel mid-wave infrared (MWIR) transmitter/receiver pairs between a HAP and an optical ground station. The testbed will allow field testing of optical components to be used in optical SatCom for both C-band and MWIR links. This data will be invaluable to partners within the Consortium, as well as the broader scientific community at large. There is also strong potential in the future to use the ground station to collect data on atmospheric scintillation and weather effects on NIR/MWIR optical links in Canada.

Free-space optical data and power transmission with ground station demonstrator (FreeSpace)

Optiwave provides a complete suite of photonic design tools to >1000 high- technology businesses and universities in >80 countries. Key to Optiwave penetrating the free-space optical (FSO) market is validation of new models across the software suite. Key to OSC members is accurately modeling high- data-rate transmission using various modulation schemes over free space optical channels between ground and satellite, high-altitude platform systems (HAPS), or ground, over all possible weather conditions.

This project works towards delivering ground-based power to HAPS or satellites, to increase power budgets for high-data-rates and capacities, moving heavy equipment to the ground. This will enable always-on performance with reliable power delivery, free of the day-night cycle or limits of installed battery capacity.

Main activities are:

(1)                AI-enhanced photonic power converter design & characterization

(2)                System modeling & validation for FSO data & power transmission

(3)                Free space optical data and power beaming demonstration using NRC’s ARTEMIS optical ground station

Highly Integrated System for True Time Delay Optical Beamforming Phased Arrays

This project will address key issues encountered with conventional electronic beamforming networks (BFN) used in space-based Radio-Frequency phased array antennas, popular in recent low cost, large, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation projects. We will design and fabricate a photonic integrated circuit to implement an innovative BFN architecture. A higher level of integration in photonic circuits leads to smaller BFN dimensions and lower cost. It will implement also true time delay within the BFN, which eliminates frequency specific behavior of beam shaping. Large bandwidth performances will be much improved over wide scan angles for operations in LEO. The high-level of integration will be enabled by wavelength division multiplexing architectures.

SUPER PAOWER: Segmented Unknown Phase Estimation Return for Photonic Adaptive Optics Wavefront Error Reconstruction

SUPER PAOWER involves the design, fabrication, characterization, packaging, and operation of an integrated photonic chip that senses and corrects optical wavefronts distorted by atmospheric turbulence on a single chip. The project will improve the design of the phase corrector chips developed for the PAOWER project by including a phase measurement circuit, allowing for a fully integrated solution. Together with beam preparation optics, a microlens array, and an electronic controller, a fully integrated photonic adaptive optics system for a ~0.5 m class telescope is realized. In a satellite to ground link, it would boost the coupling efficiency of laser beams into single-mode fibers.

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