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October 25, 2018 Thursday 10:27:47 AM IST
Cloud bursting probes open ways for laser-based communication

You might have seen the underground optical fibre cable with laser as an information carrier, used for long range communication. Satellite communication using radio waves is another effective method. Though powerful, it is highly expensive and insecure with less available frequency bands and low information carrying capacity due to the long wavelength limit. It would be a great idea to combine these two methods of communication and develop a technology that utilizes laser as an information carrier for satellite communication.

The very short wavelengths of laser can carry 10000 times information than radio frequency through multiple channels and can also be used to target a single person, implying that it is a highly secure form of communication. But, these laser beams cannot penetrate through clouds, fogs and other bad weather conditions!

To overcome this, the researchers at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, have developed an ultra-hot laser that can heat the air over 1500C resulting in a shock wave to expel the suspended water droplets sideways, thus creating a hole with a few centimetres wide over the cloud. The laser beam carrying the information needs to be sent simultaneously for better information transfer.The discovery of these ultra-powerful lasers has just been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics.

According to the researchers, this would mark the onset of commercial satellite laser communication.

DOI: 10.1364/optica.5.001338 

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