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  • More powerful integrated circuits

Photonics Spectra
May 2011
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – A record 1 Tb/s on a single integrated indium phosphide chip has been achieved, allowing for more efficient data-handling technologies and expanding the capacities of optical networks.

Infinera Corp. has manufactured a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) that enables optical networks to be more powerful, flexible and reliable – using equipment that is significantly smaller and less expensive and that uses less energy than previous systems. At the core of a new 10-channel receiver, with each channel operating at 100-Gb/s data rates, the latest PIC contains more than 150 optical components on a chip smaller than a fingernail. The components include frequency-tunable local oscillator (LO) lasers, devices for mixing the LO and incoming signals, variable optical attenuators for LO power control, a spectral demultiplexer that separates individual wavelength channels, and 40 balanced photodetector pairs.

Photonic integrated chips with faster, more powerful processing ability aim to put electronic chips out of business.

The new technical advance behind the technology is its ability to detect incoming data encoded using a spectrally efficient modulation technique known as polarization multiplexed quadrature phase-shift keying, or PM-QPSK. The technique enables four times more information to be conveyed each second than possible with the previous method of simply switching a laser light on and off.

Infinera expects its terabit PICs to be commercially available within the next few years. Its 500-Gb/s PIC will be available in 2012, and its 100-Gb/s devices are in use in long-haul and metro networks worldwide.

At a fraction of the cost and power consumption, the PIC optical networks may soon take on the intelligent features of routed networks, with the ability to reroute traffic in the event that a fiber breaks.

The work was presented at OFC/NFOEC on March 7.

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