Free-space optical (FSO) laser communication systems offer exceptionally wide-bandwidth, secure connections between platforms that cannot other wise be connected via physical means such as optical fiber or cable. However, FSO links are subject to strong channel fading due to atmospheric turbulence and beam pointing errors, limiting practical performance and reliability. We have developed a fade-tolerant architecture based on forward error correcting codes (FECs) combined with delayed, redundant, sub-channels. This redundancy is made feasible though dense wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) and/or high-order M-ary modulation. Experiments and simulations show that error-free communications is feasible even when faced with fades that are tens of milliseconds long. We describe plans for practical implementation of a complete system operating at 2.5 Gbps.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.