Diffractive optical elements, optoelectronic transducers and photonic components, which play an important role in optical data communication, can be substantially improved by lateral nanostructures. With the development of lateral optoelectronic nanostructures the way to controllable diffractive optics is paved. For this, elements with specific interference structures are necessary, which act as specific and possibly controllable transmission or reflection filters. Nanostructured optoelectronic components (e.g. quantum well or quantum dot lasers, photonic crystals) offer large market potentials in the future, e.g. for optical data communication or in the range of consumer electronics (for example laser television).

Nanostructured optoelectronic components offer promising application in space in the fields of optical satellite telecommunications or sensor technology (infrared sensors, high resolution CCD etc.). With optical wireless data links (OWL) for intrasatellite communication47 as well as,.for, oPti- cal intersatellite links, significantly smaller and lighter devices and a higher bandwidth could be realized in comparison to conventional microwave communications. Optical intersatellite links were demonstrated in the frame of the ARTEMIS mission of the ESA. For the data transmision extremely frequency-stable solid state lasers (Nd:YAG lasers) are used, which are pumped with diode lasers (Smutny et al. 2002). The German company Tesat is a leading manufacturer of laser terminals for optical intersatellite communication. Such laser terminals are also interesting for scientific applications for example as injection seeder for a satellite-based Doppler-Lidar (ALADDIN), as satellite-based measuring device for gravitation wave detectors (LISA, with SMART as demonstration mission) or as frequency normal for a satellite-based FT-spectrometer (POISON). In the following, some nano-optoelectronic components and their possible applications in space are described.

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