Free Space Optics (FSO)
Also called free space photonics. The transmission of modulated visible or infrared (IR) beams through the atmosphere via lasers, LEDs, or IR-emitting diodes (IREDs) to obtain broadband communications. The energy beam is collimated and sent through clear air or space from the source to the destination, rather than guided through an optical fiber. If the energy source does not produce a sufficiently parallel beam to travel the required distance, collimation can be done with lenses. At the source, the visible or IR energy is modulated with the data to be transmitted. At the destination, the beam is intercepted by a photodetector, the data is extracted from the visible or IR beam (demodulated), and the resulting signal is amplified and sent to the hardware. FSO systems can function over distances of several kilometers. As long as there is a clear line of sight between the source and the destination, communication is theoretically possible, but there are limitations. Rain, dust, snow, fog, or smog can block the transmission path and shut down the network.
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