Long range optical communications using Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detectors (SNSPDs) is a new and promising technology for deep spacecraft communications. SNSPDs are planned for use in future NASA space-to-ground laser communication. In the current state of the art, the clock rate is limited in part by the timing jitter of the SNSPD. Improving the timing jitter of SNSPDs results in higher clock rates, higher data rates and longer ranges. Currently timing jitters of 2.7 pS has been demonstrated in laboratory research. The proposed research centers on the further reduction of the timing jitter while expanding the resolution of the SNSPD receivers to 64 bits. This is accomplished by the development of a custom, low noise, low power consumption cryogenic differential amplifier architecture designed specifically for SNSPD readout. The cryogenic differential amplifier will be operating at a physical temperature of 4 Kelvin. The low power design will enable 64 amplifiers to operate in a single cryostat. Large-format SNSPD arrays with sub-10ps time resolution coupled to 8-meter class telescopes will revolutionize space-to-ground communications.
Communications between Deep Space Networks stations and spacecrafts use large single dish antennas, operating at microwave frequencies. The ability of these dishes to receive and process large amounts of data are limited. The solution to this problem is Long Range Optical Transceivers. Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detectors are moving this technology into reality. The cryogenic differential amplifier proposed in this work will enhance the performance of the SNSPD, increasing data rates and ranges for deep-space optical communication.
Commercial applications would benefit from the high performance of Long Range Optical Transceivers. Applications include Cloud data systems, back haul systems, commercial satellite communications and imaging in the medical field. The amplifier coupled with the Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detector will extend the useful distance, data rate and reliability of the optical receivers.