Home Technology Novel Technology Penetrates Clouds to Laser-Transmit Data from Satellite
Novel Technology Penetrates Clouds to Laser-Transmit Data from Satellite

Novel Technology Penetrates Clouds to Laser-Transmit Data from Satellite

Researchers from University of Geneva devised an ultra-hot laser that digs a temporary hole in the cloud to beam information

Information is transmitted via medium such as optical fiber and radio frequency from satellites. However, large amount of throughput has increased the preference for lasers, which have several advantages. However, the use of lasers in communication technology is restrained by clouds, which due to their density, halt laser beams. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, devised an ultra-hot laser capable of creating a temporary hole in the cloud. This enables the laser beam, which contains information to pass through. The research was published in the journal Optica on October 18, 2018.

Satellite radio communication fails to complete demand for huge flow of information, owing to its long wavelengths that limit the amount of transmitted information. Moreover, the availability of frequency bands is low and increasingly expensive. Radio frequencies can be easily captured, which further poses acute security problems. According to Jean-Pierre Wolf, professor in the Physics Section at UNIGE's Faculty of Science, lasers can carry 10,000 times more information than radio frequency, with unlimited number of channels available. He also stated that lasers can be used to target a single person, which defines lasers as highly secure form of communication. However, laser beams fail to penetrate clouds and fog. This poses challenge for use of laser communication in bad weather.

To overcome the drawback, the research team is focused on increasing the number of ground stations that can receiving the laser signals in various parts of the world. However, the approach is still dependent on weather conditions. To find a better solution, the team proposed making a hole directly through the clouds, which could allow the laser beam to pass through. The team developed a laser capable of heating the air over 1,500 degrees Celsius. This leads to a shock wave to expel sideways the suspended water droplets that make up the cloud. This in turn creates a hole, which is a few centimeters wide. The team tested their technology on artificial clouds of 50 cm thickness that contain 10,000 times more water per cm3 than a natural cloud.