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UK Consortium Targets FSO

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GLASGOW, U.K. -- A consortium of UK companies and universities are to develop a next-generation optical platform for free-space-optical (FSO) communications. The project, valued at over £720,000, dubbed 'ALFONSO', will combine advances in mid-infrared, optically pumped, vertical external-cavity surface-emitting lasers (mid-IR OP-VECSEL) at the Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, with expertise in adaptive optics at the University of Durham. Industrial partners Cablefree Solutions Ltd, Sira, Ferranti Photonics Ltd and Starpoint Adaptive Optics Ltd provide development engineering support and route to market.

The consortium aim to develop an FSO platform providing bandwidth of up 10 Gbp/s over a range of several km. The new OP-VECSEL device will operate at 2200 nm, providing greater penetration in adverse atmospheric conditions than existing systems using 850 nm or 1550 nm. The adaptive optics will compensate for turbulence in the atmosphere that deflects and distorts the laser beam, so that a smaller, faster detector can be used than on non-adaptive systems, and consequently greater bandwidth achieved.

Stephen Patrick, Director of Cablefree Solutions Ltd, says "This unique combination of British expertise will significantly 'raise the bar' in FSO system performance and lead to a world-beating communications product".

Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde

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