"Radio frequency communications are generally reliable and well understood, but cannot support emerging data rate needs unless they use a large portion of the radio spectrum," says Mohsen Kavehrad, the W. L. Weiss professor of electrical engineering and director, Penn State Center for Information and Communications Technology Research. "Free space optical communications offer enormous data rates but operate much more at the mercy of the environment."
Laser light used in communications systems can carry large amounts of information, but, the dust, dirt, water vapor and gases in a fluffy cumulus cloud, scatter the light and create echoes. The loss of some light to scattering is less important than those parts of the beam that are deflected and yet reach their target, because then, various parts of the beam reach the endpoint at different times.
"All of the laser beam photons travel at the speed of light, but different paths make them arrive at different times," says Kavehrad. "The Air Force, which is funding this project through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, would like us to deliver close to 3 gigabytes per second of data over a distance of 6 to 8 miles through the atmosphere."
That 6 to 8 miles is sufficient to cause an overlap of arriving data of hundreds of symbols, which causes echoes. The information arrives, but then it arrives again because the signal is distributed throughout the laser beam. In essence, the message is continuously being stepped on.
Kavehrad and Sangwoo Lee, graduate student in electrical engineering, presented their solutions to the echo problem at the recent IEEE Military Communications Conference in Wash., D.C.
"In the past, laser communications systems have been designed to depend on optical signal processing and optical apparatus," says Kavehrad. "We coupled state-of-the-art digital signal processing methods to a wireless laser communications system to obtain a reliable, high capacity optical link through the clouds."
The researchers developed an approach called free-space optical communications that not only can improve air-to-air communications, but also ground-to-air links. Because their approach provides fiber optic quality signals, it is also a solution for extending fiber optic systems to rural areas without laying cable and may eventually expand the Internet in a third dimension allowing airplane passengers a clear, continuous signal.
Using a computer simulation called the atmospheric channel model developed by Penn State's CICTR, the researchers first process the signal to shorten the overlapping data and reduce the number of overlaps. Then the system processes the remaining signal, picking out parts of the signal to make a whole and eliminate the remaining echoes. This process must be continuous with overlap shortening and then filtering so that a high-quality, fiber optic caliber message arrives at the destination. All this, while one or both of the sender and receiver are moving.
"We modeled the system using cumulus clouds, the dense fluffy ones, because they cause the most scattering and the largest echo," says Kavehrad. "Our model is also being used by Army contractors to investigate communications through smoke and gases and it does a very good job with those as well."
The computer modeled about a half-mile traverse of a cumulus cloud. While the researchers admit that they could simply process the signal to remove all echoes, the trade-offs would degrade the system in other ways, such as distance and time. Using a two-step process provides the most reliable, high-quality data transfer.
The system also uses commercially available off-the-shelf equipment and proven digital signal processing techniques.
A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials
17.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes
Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume
15.01.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
18.01.2018 | Life Sciences
18.01.2018 | Life Sciences
18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences