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Researchers develop high-capacity optical signal device

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:optical signal processing? optical network? phase quantization?

Researchers led by David Richardson from the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Center (ORC) have designed an optical signal processing device that claims to meet the demands of high-capacity high-speed optical networks.

According to them, they have created a simple and reconfigurable device that automatically tunes the phase property of ultrafast light signals. The phase quantization function is comparable to the way electronic circuits adjust electrical signals to ensure their voltage matches the discrete set of values required for digital computing.

In the research entitled "'Multilevel quantization of optical phase in a novel coherent parametric mixer architecture," the device touts an exceptional level of control and flexibility in processing light. Ultra high-speed optical signals can be found everywhere from communication links between microprocessor cores in next generation supercomputers to the sub-sea fiber links spanning continents.

"Today, parametric mixers are routinely used for laser wavelength conversion, spectroscopy, interferometry and optical amplification," stated Joseph Kakande, a PhD student at ORC who undertook most of the research. "Conventional parametric mixers when operated in a phase sensitive fashion have for many decades been known to have a two-level response. We have now managed to achieve a multilevel phase response which means that we have demonstrated for the first time, a device that squeezes the classical characteristics of its input light to more than two phase levels."

As an example, the team has used the device to remove noise picked up by a signal during transmission in optical fiber at greater than 100Gbit/s. In principle, this can be done even faster, at speeds hundreds of times higher than could be done using electronics, and crucially, using less power. The researchers foresee many unknown deployment opportunities, given that controlling the phase of light also finds use in applications such as enabling ultrasensitive interferometers in the hunt for gravitational waves to facilitating the probing of the inner workings of cells.

- Paul Buckley
??EE Times

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