Novel photonics technologies will boost the throughput of high-throughput satellites

Photo-Digital Channelizer for Flexible Digital High Throughput Satellites. Photonic sampler for Satellites miniaturised using PIC.

Project ID: 101004253
Start date: 1. 11. 2020
End date: 30. 9. 2023
EU cordis link: CORDIS
LinkedIN: phlexsat-project

Argotech’s role

Photonic sampler packaging and testing.

Project description

Photo-Digital Channelizer for Flexible Digital High Throughput Satellites. Photonic sampler for Satellites – miniaturization using PIC.

Photonics technologies have revolutionised communications on the ground, exponentially expanding bandwidth by harnessing the unique properties of photons with innovative technologies to manipulate them. They are behind the foundations that support next-generation edge connectivity for everything from cell phones that do not lose their signals when entering a building to self-driving cars responsive in real time. High-throughput satellites are addressing the need for a similar expansion of data traffic at the satellite level, but they currently rely primarily on conventional radio-frequency equipment. 

The EU-funded PhLEXSAT project is advancing the readiness of several important photonics technologies supporting space-grade photonics hardware for future Terabit/s communication satellites.


Photonic technologies are key enablers to satisfy the requirements of future Terabit/s communication satellites. The ability of Photonics to handle high data rates and frequencies is critical in this scenario, where current purely RF technologies are limited in SWaP and performance. However, the use of photonics devices is currently restricted to a few demonstrations in non-critical equipment and with limited degree of integration.

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 Q/V-band operation and
  4. on-board digital processing firmware.

Miniaturization will be achieved by fabricating and integrating a modulator photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and high-linear photodiode PIC with electronics in the photonic ADC and DAC components. PhLEXSAT will integrate and demonstrate such building blocks in a test bed proving the suitability of the proposed architecture for Tbps-like, software defined HTS payloads with hundreds of channels with flexible bandwidth allocation up to 1GHz/channel, demonstrating a flexible photo-digital channelizer for high capacity reconfigurable payloads, enabling flexible frequency plans and channelization and dynamic coverage for Ku/Ka/Q/V operation. 

PhLEXSAT consortium comprises the multidisciplinary skills needed to achieve its objectives and fully exploit its results, with partners representing the whole value chain, from space-grade hardware developers to communications satellite integrators and operators. PhLEXSAT builds on the results of the previous FP7 project PHASER and is complementary to developments made by its partners in previous and existing ESA and EC Projects.

PhLEXSAT success will contribute to enhance EU competitiveness and non-n-dependence by developing critical technologies for the EU satellite industry.


Axenic Limited, United Kingdom
Eutelsat, France
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung EV, Germany
MDA Space and Robotics Limited, United Kingdom

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under
grant agreement no. 101004253.