Researchers in silicon photonics have demonstrated the first all-silicon optical transmitter capable of 100Gbps and higher without the use of digital signal processing. The new optical modulator nearly doubles the maximum data rate of current state-of-the-art devices, demonstrating the potential for low power. These low-cost all-silicon solutions avoid complicating fabrication processes with non-CMOS-compatible new materials.
The optical modulator is essential in systems supporting modern information and communication technologies, including traditional data communication links, microwave photonics, and chip-scale computing networks.
In contrast to previous work in the field, the researchers have introduced a new design philosophy in which photonics and electronics must be viewed as a single integrated system to address the field’s demanding technical challenges. Their findings are based on a fully integrated electronic-photonic system rather than a laboratory-probe stand-alone silicon modulator.
All previous work that has not relied on digital signal processing to recover signal integrity has resulted in inferior system performance compared to the performance of the individual components, resulting in a maximum data rate of approximately 56Gbps.
When most researchers worldwide aim for a five to ten percent improvement at the system level, these results represent nearly a 100 percent improvement, so researchers are overjoyed that the design philosophy is working. These findings are significant because they will influence how designers configure datacom transmission systems in the future.
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