Photonics Technologies for Space Applications. Main Advantages



  • Almost unlimited bandwidth (i.e. 1550nm fiber can go to several THz.).
  • Reduced propagation losses at spacecraft level (due to short communication distances).
  • Supports any modulation or coding format. Immunity against electromagnetic interferences.
  • Optimum mechanical properties (light weight, mechanically flexible, reduced volume, resistant against corrosion of contamination).

Photonics Technologies in Space applications

Telecommunication Satellites Payload

  • Digital Communication Links
  • Analogue Communication Links
  • Optical Switching
  • Signal Processing
  • Microphotonics

Spacecraft Platform

  • Optical Wireless Low rate Links
  • Sensors
  • Pyrotechnic

Optical Wireless communications

  • IR Photo-detectors



Formation flight

  • High power lasers
  • IR detector (1.55 to ∼4 μm)

S/C visual inspection

  • Imaging systems

Quantum cryptography

  • Laser at different wavelengths
  • Micro-optics
  • Optical Amplifiers

Parts Selection for Space Applications Step by step approach for optoelectronics parts



Last edition: January 2017

Optoelectronics ESA QPL


Parts Selection rules for Space Applications


solar orbiter electronic components

Evaluation & Screening Flow

Parts selection rules for space applications

parts selections solar orbiter

  • Flow based in ECSS-Q-ST-60-13
  • PIND and Hermecity were N/A in most of the cases (the components were plastic encapsulated)
  • Vibration and shock in evaluation demanded at assembly level (due to exotic packages and assembly techniques)
  • Outgassing was also part of evaluation when the plastic compound figure was unknown
  • Whenever no Single wafer lot was assured then TID and Life test sampling was increased by 40%

Case of OZ150, Wrong DATA in Data Sheet: after 1 thermal cycling among 85°C to -40°C , 49 out 72 samples failed “structurally”

oz150 solar orbiter

Manufacturer replied that they were told about similar failure by one other user and they had recently updated the data sheet with a tighter temperature range (-40 °C to + 70 °C ) and with the warning that this part should not see thermal cycling.

OZ150 rejected for flight.

Replaced by RZ677 (thineed glass version of OZ150)+ parylene coating that passed the screening and evaluation

Photonic parts in Mars exploration related programmes

REMS General Topics:

Rover Environmental Monitoring Inspection

Arrived to Mars on 6 September 2012
Mars Atmosphere
  • Temperature Range (-135ºC to +70ºC)
  • Optical setup characterization:
–  Thermopiles (for non-contact Temp measurement)
–  UV Photodiodes (200nm – 400nm)

rover curiosity alter technology

Environmental Tests:

  • Temp range: -135ºC to +105ºC
  • Radiation neutrons, gamma, protons, etc..
  • Life Test to simulate the day-night cycles
  • 600 cycles -130ºC to +15ºC (Winter cycles)
  • 1410 cycles -105ºC to + 40ºC (Summer cycles)
  • Full characterization of UV Photodiodes
  • From -135ºC to + 105ºC with steps of 10ºC
  • Linearity
  • Angle of Incidence variation

Combined Radiation and Temperature Test JUICE Mission

Characterization at extreme low temp: Cryogenic gamma radiation for JUICE -230 °C Gamma rad till 125 Mrad.

JUICE Gamma radiation for juice

Combined temperature and radiation Low Energy Proton Effects

evaluation of low-energy proton

Jonathan Pellish

One of the conclusions: CMOS nodes at and below 90nm have identified as sensitive to low-energy proton direct ionization.

GDE Error: Unable to load requested profile.

Photonic Transceiver for Space Applications

Entanglement Photon Source



Faint Pulse Source

faint pulse source

whole eps module assembly

photonic transceiver


Extreme environments:

JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) juice-euclid-lisa

EUCLID (Geometry of the dark Universe)

LISA (Gravitation waves)

Custom package for space application

Optocap, turn-key packaging services enable our customers to reduce development and manufacturing costs, accelerate time to market and reduce risk with new product developments.

Our expertise in packaging solutions spans the full product life-cycle: from design through prototyping, process optimisation, product qualification, failure analysis, volume manufacturing and transfer to low-cost volume manufacture.


Space Qualifiable* MiniDIL Module

ceramic miniDIL

Standard Ceramic miniDIL Package: Off the shelf option

Modified Ceramic miniDIL Package: Same footprint in x, y dimensions. Integrating key features of Optocap’s 14 pin butterfly package, such as laser welded fibre alignment. No TEC included.

Pigtail Optical Components He leak Test

Hermeticity Test: Standard He Leak Test is very difficult or destructive for pigtailed Optical Components due to the absortion of He by the fiber.

pigtail optical components

Image Sensor Thermal Strap Characterization

Thermal Vacuum setups: Thermal Vacuum and characterization at liquid nitrogen temp range

  • Image sensor dissipation straps
  • Vacuum tests from -180 ºC to more than 200 ºC.

Image Sensor Thermal Strap Characterization

POE Project

Programmable Optical Element: Tunable Lens
  • Lenses are made by generating a lens profile in the switching of the LC
  • Most LC lenses work for one polarisation only
  • The profile of the lens is tuned by changing the electric field profile
  • The focal length can be cast as:


  • F varies with the wavelength as 1/Dn


Alter Technology experience in Optoelectronics

ALTER TECHNOLOGY has gathered a large experience and knowhow in optical and reliability testing on photonics parts covering the full range of different technologies.

Range of optoelectronics and photonics parts:

  • Laser & Leds 250 to 5000 nm.
  • Receivers modules (180 to 11000 nm).
  • Optical Amplifiers & Optical modulators
  • Switches and splitters.
  • Optocouplers & Photodiodes
  • Multimode and monomode Fibers
  • Liquid Crystal Devices
  • Image Sensors
  • Optical Transceivers

alter technology experience in optoelectronics