Silicon-based optical modulator for ultra-fast telecommunications

May 30, 2013

Imagine being able to download 10 high-definition movies (each of 4 GB capacity) in less than 1 second or be able to enjoy superior lag-free online gaming experience with multiple players from anywhere in the world. Researchers from A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME) have designed and developed a silicon-based optical modulator for ultra fast long-distance telecommunications. The device would enable 50% faster download speed than the latest Ethernet standard. The technology can be realised with existing industry fabrication processes, paving way for affordable high speed data communications to the masses.

A modulator in an network transforms into . It performs one of the most critical steps as its switching speed in the signal conversion process dictates the overall rate at which data packets are sent out. In long distance optical communications, the quality of signals transmitted takes on greater significance ― a critical performance feature defined by the extinction ratio of the modulator.

At record-high extinction ratio of 5.5 dB with 50Gbps data speed, IME's modulator exhibits the highest reported immunity against data distortion to deliver high quality optical signals over even longer distances. The modulator uses the on-off keying (OOK) format, which is widely used commercially. When this format is applied to advanced multilevel modulation format such as QPSK and DP-QPSK, the and total data communication can be increased to 100 Gbps and 200 Gbps, respectively. Compared to current state-of-the-art, IME's modulator would need 50% less input power to impart optimised cooling, energy and cost savings in high-performance computing and data centres.

On the breakthrough, Dr Tu Xiaoguang, the IME scientist involved in the project, said, "By applying a novel structure design, our team was able to achieve a precisely-defined P-N junction profile that can reach high modulation speed without compromising optical signal quality, which has troubled designers in the past. This leads to the remarkable performance of the silicon modulator. Work is underway to develop new designs for pushing the switching speed further."

Professor Dim-Lee Kwong, Executive Director of IME, said, "Silicon photonics offers promising solutions to marry photonic functionality with electronic intelligence. With the results achieved using CMOS technology, we expect IME's silicon modulator to offer a distinct lead that is competitive with optical modulators in the market."

Explore further: Fiber Optical Transmission In Demand Of Higher Capacity

Related Stories

Fiber Optical Transmission In Demand Of Higher Capacity

April 2, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- With the increasing high volume content over the internet, such as multimedia and high definition images, new transmission methods need to be found to handle the increasing data demand. Nippon Telegraph and ...

Sesame seed-sized antenna increases WIFI speed by 200 times

August 28, 2012

Researchers from A*STAR's Institute of Microelectronics (IME) have developed the first compact high performance silicon-based cavity-backed slot (CBS) antenna that operates at 135 GHz. The antenna demonstrated a 30 times ...

Recommended for you

Inferring urban travel patterns from cellphone data

August 29, 2016

In making decisions about infrastructure development and resource allocation, city planners rely on models of how people move through their cities, on foot, in cars, and on public transportation. Those models are largely ...

How machine learning can help with voice disorders

August 29, 2016

There's no human instinct more basic than speech, and yet, for many people, talking can be taxing. 1 in 14 working-age Americans suffer from voice disorders that are often associated with abnormal vocal behaviors - some of ...

Sponge creates steam using ambient sunlight

August 22, 2016

How do you boil water? Eschewing the traditional kettle and flame, MIT engineers have invented a bubble-wrapped, sponge-like device that soaks up natural sunlight and heats water to boiling temperatures, generating steam ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.