Le Kernec, Arnaud and Sotom, M. and Benazet, M. and Barbero, Juan and Peñate, L. and Maignan, M. and Esquivias Moscardo, Ignacio and López Hernández, Francisco and Karafolas, Nikos
Space Evaluation of Optical Modulators for Microwave Photonic On-Board Applications.
In: "International Conference on Space Optics ICSO 2010", 04/10/2010 - 08/10/2010, Isla de Rodas, Grecia.
Since several years, perspectives and assets offered by photonic technologies compared with their traditional RF counterparts (mass and volume reduction, transparency to RF frequency, RF isolation), make them particularly attractive for space applications  and, in particular, telecommunication satellites . However, the development of photonic payload concepts have concurrently risen and made the problem of the ability of optoelectronic components to withstand space environment more and more pressing. Indeed, photonic components used in such photonic payloads architectures come from terrestrial networks applications in order to benefit from research and development in this field. This paper presents some results obtained in the frame of an ESA-funded project, carried out by Thales Alenia Space France, as prime contractor, and Alter Technology Group Spain (ATG) and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM), as subcontractors, one objective of which was to assess commercial high frequency optical intensity modulators for space use through a functional and environmental test campaign. Their potential applications in microwave photonic sub-systems of telecom satellite payloads are identified and related requirements are presented. Optical modulator technologies are reviewed and compared through, but not limited to, a specific figure of merit, taking into account two key features of these components : optical insertion loss and RF half-wave voltage. Some conclusions on these different technologies are given, on the basis of the test results, and their suitability for the targeted applications and environment is highlighted.