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Trumpf VCSELs To Fly To Space In Quantum Sensors

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First satellite controlled by quantum technology is scheduled to be launched into space in 2027

Trumpf Photonic Components, has developed a high-power, single-mode VCSEL to be implemented in an altitude gyroscope sensor suitable for use in space. In a few years, the satellite with the quantum-based gyroscope should fly into space to generate highly precise attitude determination.

The development is part of a €28 million subsidy project called QYRO, strongly supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany. There are a number of partners in the project including quantum technology start-up Q.ANT, Bosch, Trumpf and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aim is to use quantum technology-based sensors to achieve high-precision attitude control of miniaturised satellites. The sensors enable the satellites to be aligned with each other and thus enable a high-speed connection for data communication.

The newly developed single-mode VCSEL is a 795 nm device with 10 mW of output power. This is ten times higher than the laser power this technology was able to offer in the past, according to Trumpf. The company says the VCSEL technology delivers the required stability over a wide range of temperatures and robustness demanded by this space application. The breakthrough in compactness and cost enabled by the VCSEL technology will also open up more applications in mass markets. Highly precise gyroscopes can be used in industry, logistics or even in autonomously driving cars.

“It's great to be part of the subsidy project, and to combine various fields of expertise, push for innovations and strengthen Germany as photonics hub”, says Berthold Schmidt, CEO at Trumpf Photonic Components. “We can't wait to see our VCSEL integrated into a mini satellite, to support worldwide high-quality data communication and to improve the availability of internet connections especially in remote regions”, Schmidt adds.

Trumpf Photonic Components is working closely with the Ferdinand Braun Institute, Leibniz Institute for High Frequency Technology, one of the world's most renowned research institutes for laser diodes. Together with this institute, Trumpf is jointly developing the robust VCSELs with high spectral purity that also meet the demands of quantum technology and space.

Another Trumpf subsidiary based in Berlin will integrate the VCSEL component into a robust, miniaturised TO package with additional optics and temperature stabilisation. Trumpf brings to the table its innovative assembly and automation technology know-how. Overall, there are five project partners, each bringing their own specialisation, such as Bosch, that is developing a miniaturised, space-compatible measuring cell. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) will ensure the suitability for space within in QYRO project and is responsible for transporting the satellite into space. The quantum technology start-up Q.ANT is leading the development partnership and assembling the various components of the sensor.

The first satellite controlled by quantum technology is scheduled to be launched into space in 2027
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