A European R&D project increasing the maturity (TRL) of space grade photonic components for the next generation of flexible high throughput satellites
aXenic is pleased to announce the launch of PhLEXSAT (Photo-Digital Channelizer for Flexible Digital High Throughput Satellites) a 30-month EC-funded H2020-SPACE R&D project which started on 1st November 2020. aXenic will receive funding of nearly €400k over the period of the project.
Photonic technologies are key enablers to satisfy the requirements of future Terabit/s communication satellites. PhLEXSAT will increase the maturity level of several key photonic devices and modules to TRL5, designing, fabricating, and testing 1) Photonic sampler, 2) ultra-low jitter photonic clock for precise sampling, 3) Photonic-assisted ADC and DAC for digital channelizers for up to W-band operation and 4) onboard digital processing firmware. Miniaturization will be achieved by fabricating and integrating a Mach Zehnder Modulator photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and high-linear photodiode PIC with electronics in the photonic ADC and DAC components.
PhLEXSAT brings together a team of leading European innovators with complementary expertise in commercial satellite operation, photonic satellite payload design, electronic and photonic integrated circuit design, optoelectronic assembly, and packaging. The consortium members are DAS Photonics (Spain), MDA Space and Robotics (UK), aXenic (UK), Fraunhofer (Germany), Argotech (Czech Republic) and Eutelsat (France).
In a Post-Deadline paper at the foremost European Conference on Optical Communications in Brussels it was highlighted that our QPSK modulator (aXSD2050) had been critical in a breakthrough ultra-high-speed transmission experiment to achieve 220GBaud. The authors, based at Huawei’s Munich optical network team, stated that this was a world first, beating previous best of 95GBaud in commercial products and 192GBaud in previous academic research. Our congratulations to the team for achieving this result.
The experiment took advantage of the outstanding high bandwidth of our modulator which was shown to achieve close to 50GHz in a 3dB bandwidth. The stable operation of the modulator makes it an excellent option for achieving the highest transmission speeds and has attracted great interest amongst our customers.
aXenic is pleased to announce the launch of SIPhoDiAS (Space-grade Opto-electronic Interfaces for Photonic Digital and Analogue Very-high-throughput Satellite payloads), a 3-year EC-funded H2020-SPACE R&D project which started on 1st January 2020. aXenic will receive funding of €400k over the period of the project.
SIPhoDiAS is focusing on the development of space-grade opto-electronic (O/E) modules and sub-systems for next generation, very high throughput telecom satellites (VHTS). The O/E interfaces developed by the project are digital transceivers, analogue photodetectors and modulators which are deployed in the highest volumes and are used to interconnect equipment at the edge and within the satellite payload. SIPhoDiAS targets the development of this space photonic component generation by leveraging reliable manufacturing, assembly and packaging technologies that exist within Europe. The project drives its component design around the upgrade of opto-electronic performance and the shrinking of size and power consumption. The component functional performance will be demonstrated through their integration into digital processor and analogue photonic-RF conversion sub-systems. Reliability will be demonstrated through a rigorous validation test campaign.
aXenic contributes high bandwidth optical modulators as arrays, for global leading performance in terms of size weight and power for satellite compatible optical networks.
SIPhoDiAS brings together a team of leading European innovators with complementary expertise in electronic and photonic integrated circuit design, optoelectronic assembly and packaging, system integration and space qualification testing. The consortium members are: ALBIS Optoelectronics (Switzerland), ALTER Technology (Spain), ALTER Technology (UK), IHP Microelectronics (Germany), LEO Space Photonics R&D (Greece) and Thales Alenia Space (France).
More information on this project is available at:
Chapter 2 of this book summarises the work of the EU Seventh Framework project IPHOBAC-NG and is written by members of the project consortium, including aXenic’s Rob Walker and Steve Clements. This chapter describes the development of enabling technology leading to a successful field trial of an E-band (71-76GHz) hybrid fiber/wireless link, for which aXenic developed specialised Single Sideband (SSB) modulators antecedent to the current aXSD2050 IQ product.
Optical and Wireless Convergence for 5G Networks
Abdelgader M. Abdalla, Jonathan Rodriguez, Issa Elfergani, Antonio Teixeira
John Wiley & Sons, August 2019
The book can be previewed on Google Books
In September 2019 aXenic presented at a Showcase event during the UK Space Conference held at the International Convention Centre in Newport, Wales. Rollo Hutson described an 8 week intern project he carried out at aXenic this summer investigating methods of extending the temperature range of aXenic’s Gallium Arsenide optical modulators. aXenic’s modulators already operate over a wide temperature range but some space applications require further extending the operating temperature to temperatures as low as -45C.
Rollo’s work investigating methods to deliberately apply controlled stress to the chip to compensate the thermal stress added at low temperatures showed up very promising routes for further investigation.
Rollo joined 48 other interns at the showcase event who were funded by the UK Space agencies SPIN intern scheme, to share their experiences of working in the space sector.
aXenic has just graduated from Seraphim Space Camp. The only hardware based company to be selected for this years cohort, aXenic pitched our story - Transforming high capacity data links for satellite communications - at Seraphim Capital, London during June.
aXenic have been selected as finalists in this years Europas event
in the SpaceTech Startup category.
Find out more at the Pathfinder site
aXenic Ltd and Optocap Ltd have won a competition for a 12-month collaborative research project awarded by Innovate UK under the recent Compound Semiconductor Applications fund.
The aim of the Innovate UK fund is to speed up the use of compound semiconductors in areas such as power electronics, RF/microwave, photonics and sensors.
In this project: the partners aim to develop a novel low loss microwave interconnect assembly process, so as much of the intrinsic compound semiconductor chip performance can be achieved in the packaged module as possible. The new assembly process is expected to be applicable to a wide range of compound semiconductor devices and not just the high-speed photonic modulators based on Gallium Arsenide produced by aXenic.
Steve Clements, CEO of aXenic, commented “the new assembly process will allow us to realise optical modulators with reliable broadband performance above 50GHz, which compares to constraints of around 40GHz with conventional processes”. Such high performance, high reliability optical modulators are required for demanding applications in satellite communications and in aerospace markets where photonic systems are prized for their high bandwidth, small size and lower weight than conventional electronics.
aXenic have extensive experience in GaAs optical modulators which they have developed over many years for application in fibre optical telecommunication systems. aXenic currently offer a range of optical modulators for digital communications and RF over fibre.
Optocap Limited, owned by the Alter Technology Group TUV Nord S.A.U., is a technology oriented company active in the field of optoelectronics & microelectronics package design and assembly services. Optocap offer a full design and assembly of custom Photonic products and is experienced in harsh environment applications, specifically the Space sector. Optocap has 34 staff all based at the Livingston facility in the UK.
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. For further information visit: www.innovateuk.gov.uk
From the Northern Echo:
A thriving technology cluster has developed in Durham in recent years and it is the strength of that like minded community which has been key to the success of aXenic, a company producing high-speed modulators for the telecoms markets.
aXenic exhibiting at the Farnborough International Airshow
aXenic will be presenting their GaAs optical modulator technology and products in collaboration with the North West Aerospace Alliance in Hall 1 on Stand B140 from the 11th to the 17th of July 2016. Please come by our booth to discuss your needs based on our standard products or any custom requirements you may have for radio over fibre or optical communication and networks in space and aerospace applications.
A more detailed description of GaAs modulators and their properties has been published by Rob Walker of aXenic in a recent book: Broadband Optical Modulators.
This is a link to the book in the Google books project
Sedgefield, County Durham, United Kingdom. aXenic today announced that it has acquired Finisar UK Ltd and its Optical Modulator business for an undisclosed sum from its parent company Finisar Germany, which is part of the Finisar Corporation. aXenic, whose shareholders include the Management and Employees of Finisar UK, plans to address wider markets than the telecom business which was the focus of its activity as part of Finisar.
With its largely UK based supply chain, aXenic offers Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) based modulators for telecom markets >100G and high bandwidth, high frequency and high linearity products aimed at 40GHz and above. It will continue to develop its business with support of European collaborative projects which are aimed in particular at the high frequency and analogue business markets. The experience and capabilities of the business go back over 20 years with background in product offerings in both telecom and analogue markets and delivery of both GaAs and Indium Phosphide (InP) based products.
“We are really excited about the prospects of the new operating business with the opportunity to broaden our market access and interests for the developing business in highest speed and high bandwidth modulator products” said Steve Clements the CEO of aXenic. “We look forward to engaging with our customers in this area to offer high performance yet cost effective functions in a growing business.”
aXenic’s technology was originally developed as part of the semiconductor business within Filtronic and was acquired by u2t Photonics in 2009. Last year u2t was itself acquired by Finisar Corporation. aXenic’s products and expertise covers semiconductor modulator design, optical and high speed test and optical packaging. It uses a subcontract route to product build and its product platform is supported by its established and developing patent portfolio.