Forthcoming Events

26.10.2020 - 28.10.2020, Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), Villigen,Switzerland


Duration: 12 months, Start: July 2015

Academic project leader: Thomas Feurer, Institution: IAP Laser Physics, University of Bern. Project partner: European Space Agency

In a collaboration with the European Space Agency and the NCCR PlanetS, Thomas Feurer develops a new picosecond fiber laser. The laser will be part of CALE (collision avoidance LaDAR experiment), an imaging LaDAR system for collision avoidance (e.g. on a planetary rover) or for support of autonomous soft landing by an inter-planetary probe.

CALE had three tasks:
  1. To support the proposal writing of an ESA funded Swiss Incubator (ESA BIC) for start-up companies.
The proposal was written and submitted in 2015, but unfortunately turned out to be unsuccessful.
  1. To design and test, in collaboration with the space-science department and the laboratory for high energy physics of the University of Bern, a fiber laser for low orbit space applications.
Different components and an entire fiber laser were built and irradiated with the proton beam facility at the Insel Spital in Bern. The results are currently prepared for publication.
  1. To design and simulate, in collaboration with the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar Systems, an optical microwave spectrometer with unprecedented bandwidth and resolution.
Up to now, high-resolution chirped transform spectrometers based on velocity dispersion of sonic surface waves are widely used in molecular spectroscopy and radio astronomy. This type of spectrometer is capable of providing a few thousand frequency channels within a bandwidth of 1 GHz, resulting in a resolution of less than 100 KHz.

In order to archive a larger operating bandwidth, a chirped broadband (> 1 THz) optical carrier was proposed. This technique relies on optical pulses, stretched in time by suitable photonic components, i.e., long fibers or chirped fiber Bragg gratings, which are subsequently modulated with the microwave waveforms to be sampled. After recompression the pulses are sampled in time-domain and are a mirror images of the microwave spectrum. An advantage of this technique is its enormous bandwidth, up to hundreds of GHz, and excellent resolution.

The design and simulations, performed during this project, demonstrate 40 GHz bandwidth with a resolution below 1 MHz at a dynamic range of better than 60 dB. In a follow-up project we currently build a prototype device which will be delivered to the Max Planck Institute once completed and tested.

The work is funded in part by UniBE FAST.

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