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A*STAR develops modulator for fast telecommunications

Nurdianah Md Nur | May 31, 2013
The silicon-based optical modulator can increase information capacity by 100Gbps and total data communication to 200Gbps respectively.

With A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics' (IME) new modulator, users will be able to experience a 50 percent faster download speed than the latest Ethernet standard.

A modulator transforms electrical signals into optical signals in an optical telecommunication network. Its switching speed in this process dictates the overall rate at which data packets are sent out while the extinction ratio defines the quality of signals transmitted.

IME's silicon-based optical modulator delivers an extinction ratio of 5.5dB with 50Gbps data speed. Applying the on-off key (OOK) format to advanced multilevel modulation formats—such as Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) and Differential Phase-Shift Keying (DP-QPSK)—the modulator can help increase information capacity and total data communication to 100Gbps and 200Gbps respectively.

It also require 50 percent less input power than other modulators to impart optimised cooling, energy and cost savings in high-performance computing and data centres.

"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," says Dr Tu Xiaoguang, the IME scientist involved in the project.


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