Microwave Photonics Expands RF Bandwidth

Microwave photonics (MWP) has unlocked a new paradigm for Radio Frequency (RF) signal processing using photonic components’ inherent wideband and adjustable nature. Despite numerous efforts to implement integrated MWP filters, a key RF processing functionality, achieving a fully integrated photonic circuit that can merge the megahertz-level spectral resolution required for RF applications with key electro-optic components has long been challenging.

Researchers overcame this obstacle by developing a 5 mm × 5 mm chip-scale MWP filter with active E-O components with a 37 MHz spectral resolution. This device was made possible by heterogeneously integrating chalcogenide waveguides, which offer Brillouin gain, in a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) foundry-manufactured silicon photonic chip with integrated modulators and photodetectors. This research lays the door for a new generation of compact, high-resolution RF photonic filters with broad frequency tunability, which will be required for future applications such as airborne and spaceborne RF communication payloads.

Researchers have developed a small silicon semiconductor device that blends electronics and photonic components. The breakthrough promises to greatly increase radio-frequency (RF) bandwidth and the ability to manage information flowing within the semiconductor precisely. The device, which was created utilizing cutting-edge silicon photonics technology, has integration capabilities for a wide range of systems on semiconductors as small as 5 millimeters. The researchers compared the technique to assembling Lego building blocks, in which new materials are connected via enhanced packaging of electronic “chiplets.”

The chip’s photonic circuit achieves an incredible 15 gigahertz bandwidth of tunable frequencies with a spectral resolution of only 37 megahertz—less than a quarter of the bandwidth.
This team claims that this method has the potential to revolutionize microwave photonics and integrated photonics research, with applications ranging from improved radar to satellite systems, wireless networks, and future 6G and 7G telecommunications.

Read more

Related Content: CMOS Chip, Silicon Photonics For Efficient Transmitter