News Release

Low-loss chip-scale programmable silicon photonic processor

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Compuscript Ltd


image: Schematic of an on-chip optical signal processor. view more 

Credit: OEA

A new publication from Opto-Electronic Advances, 10.29026/oea.2023.220030 discusses low-loss chip-scale programmable silicon photonic processors.


Integrated optical signal processors have been identified as a powerful engine for optical processing of optical signals. They enable wideband and stable signal processing operations on miniaturized chips with ultimate control precision. Currently, there is a significant interest in providing functional reconfigurability, to match a key advantage of programmable microelectronic processors. To implement large-scale programmable PICs with a large number of tuning elements, the challenge is to lower the loss of silicon photonic waveguides and minimize the random phase errors caused by the fabrication imperfection for the phase-shifters of those tuning elements.  


The authors of this article propose a high-performance programmable silicon photonic processor by introducing low-loss multimode photonic waveguide spirals and low-random-phase-error Mach-Zehnder switches. These waveguide spirals are designed to be as wide as 2 µm, enabling an ultralow propagation loss of 0.28 dB/cm, which is much smaller than the traditional silicon waveguide (2-3 dB/cm). Meanwhile, these MZCs and MZSs are designed with 2-µm-wide arm waveguides, and thus the random phase errors in the MZC/MZS arms are negligible, in which case the calibration for these MZSs/MZCs becomes easy and furthermore the power consumption for compensating the phase errors can be reduced greatly. In addition, each channel has a Ge/Si photodetectors and grating coupler to detect the signal. By programming the device, this programmable silicon photonic processor is demonstrated successfully to verify a number of distinctively different functionalities, including tunable time-delay, microwave photonic beamforming, arbitrary optical signal filtering, and arbitrary waveform generation.


Article reference: Xie YW, Hong SH, Yan H, Zhang CP, Zhang L et al. Low-loss chip-scale programmable silicon photonic processor. Opto-Electron Adv 6, 220030 (2023). doi: 10.29026/oea.2023.220030 

Keywords: silicon photonics / programmable / photonic integrated circuit / waveguide / delay lines / Mach-Zehnder interferometer

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Opto-Electronic Advances (OEA) is a high-impact, open access, peer reviewed monthly SCI journal with an impact factor of 8.933 (Journal Citation Reports for IF2021). Since its launch in March 2018, OEA has been indexed in SCI, EI, DOAJ, Scopus, CA and ICI databases over the time and expanded its Editorial Board to 36 members from 17 countries and regions (average h-index 49).

The journal is published by The Institute of Optics and Electronics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, aiming at providing a platform for researchers, academicians, professionals, practitioners, and students to impart and share knowledge in the form of high quality empirical and theoretical research papers covering the topics of optics, photonics and optoelectronics.

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The silicon integrated nanophotonics group (SING) of Zhejiang University is led by Prof. Daoxin Dai and has been working in the field of silicon photonics, aiming to achieve high-performance and highly-density photonic integrated devices and chips for optical communications, optical interconnects, optical sensing and optical computing. The group has published more than 300 papers in Nature and other top journals.

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