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Nanotechnology Now – Press Release: Chip-based dispersion compensation for faster fiber internet: SUTD scientists develop a new, slow-light-based, CMOS-compatible transmission grid device for high-speed data dispersion compensation, significantly lowering data transmission errors and road paving for

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Home > press > Chip-based dispersion compensation for faster fiber internet: SUTD scientists develop a new slow-light, CMOS-compatible transmission grid device for high-speed data dispersion compensation, significantly lowering data transmission errors and paving the way for

Associate Professor Tan and his team developed the breakthrough dispersive device and published their findings in the paper 'Slow light-based dispersion compensation of high-speed data on silicon nitride chips' in Advanced Photonics Research.  Their paper was selected for the June issue on the cover of the journal.  SUTD CREDIT
Associate Professor Tan and his team developed the breakthrough dispersive device and published their findings in the paper ‘Slow light-based dispersion compensation of high-speed data on silicon nitride chips’ in Advanced Photonics Research. Their paper was selected for the June issue on the cover of the journal. SUTD CREDIT

Abstract:
Optical fiber is now the fastest and most reliable technology for providing internet connections. Data is transmitted via fast-moving pulses of light that bounce off the fiber cable walls to allow the signal to travel farther with less attenuation. However, fiber data transmission is subject to dispersion, or signal degradation from interference in the optical fiber. This causes different wavelengths of light to travel at different speeds, scattering the signal over time and causing errors.

Chip-based dispersion compensation for faster fiber internet: SUTD scientists develop a slow-transmission, CMOS-compatible grating device based on CMOS for high-speed data dispersion compensation, significantly lowering data transmission errors and paving the way for

Singapore | Posted on June 30, 2023

Dispersion compensation methods can overcome this problem, with on-chip devices being especially promising as they can be incorporated into transceivers to increase signal range. While on-chip dispersive devices exist, none exhibit high-speed data dispersion compensation. This is a gap that researchers from the Photonics Devices and Systems Group of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), led by Associate Professor Dawn Tan, aim to close.

Many integrated dispersive devices are possible, but gratings appear to be the most promising due to their favorable transmission and phase properties. With gratings as their specialty, Associate Professor Tan and his team developed a breakthrough dispersive device and published their findings in the paper ‘Slow light-based dispersion compensation of high-speed data on silicon nitride chips’ in Advanced Photonics Research. Their paper was even selected for the June issue on the cover of the journal, signaling the promising applications of the novel device.

“Our group has been working with grids for a variety of applications for many years. For example, we have used slow light grids, optical amplifiers and solitons. Our experience in grid design and development and our interaction with industry has helped us overcome the current pain points in high-speed data movement,” said Associate Professor Tan.

His research group designed and demonstrated a low-loss metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) compatible silicon nitride lattice device for high-speed data dispersion compensation. The criteria they had to meet in building these devices were threefold: high dispersion, low data loss, and the small form factor required for on-chip integration.

Existing dispersive devices that produce high dispersive exhibit high data loss, while devices that allow low data loss do not produce high dispersive. Devices that can do both and be integrated onto a chip will be a significant advance in data transmission technology. To address this, the researchers designed two lattice devices — one with one lattice pitch of 434 nanometers (single lattice device; SGD) and another with two layered gratings with different pitches of 434 and 440 nanometers (coated lattice device; OGD).

The transmission spectra of SGD and OGD are similar. Stopbands in both spectra induce forward and backward propagation modes in the gratings. These modes interact and give rise to the slow light effect, that is, a reduction in the speed of the light pulse. Slow light effects vary rapidly with wavelength, resulting in areas of high dispersion. Due to the device’s unique dispersive mechanism, data loss is minimally affected even with high dispersion.

“In this study, both SGD and OGD enabled dispersion compensation over long fiber coverage (up to 20 kilometers) with minimal loss. In addition, both devices achieve improved error correction performance, reducing the bit error rate by ninefold from 5×10-1 to 1×10-10,” explains Kenny Ong, PhD candidate at SUTD and first author of the paper.

The OGD can also provide a range of dispersion values ​​that are useful for dynamic dispersion compensation. “Using thermo-optical tuning, one can dynamically control the OGD to compensate for dispersion of various magnitudes, or the dispersion associated with various fiber lengths,” adds Associate Professor Tan.

This can simplify dispersion compensation systems used in different optical communication systems and help reduce the temperature or fiber stress effect on data transmission. Because the OGD dispersion profile can be changed with small changes in wavelength, a smaller level of thermo-optical tuning (i.e., less power) is required to produce the required dispersion.

Integrating the SGD and OGD into commercial transceivers, either within the transmitter or receiver chip, has proven both feasible and profitable. These devices are compatible with CMOS manufactures and can be integrated in a transceiver chip, allowing wider fiber coverage as well as higher data rates to be used.

“This device is best suited for transceivers serving data center communications. The industry is cost and power sensitive and does not typically use digital signal processing for data correction,” explains Associate Professor Tan.

Currently, he is looking forward to collaborating with industry partners to commercialize the new grating devices. He mentioned that the ideal partnership would be with a company that manufactures transceivers, so that dispersion compensation devices can be integrated into their chips to increase their performance.

For future research, he plans to add to the dispersion performance of the device and investigate the data rates and range of fibers it can support. His team is also exploring ways to improve the mechanism, creating new designs for grids, and using grids in other applications.

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Contact:
Jessica Sasayiah
Singapore University of Technology and Design

Office: 656-499-4823

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