Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Photonics breakthough paving the way for improved wireless communication systems


The work could bolster the wireless revolution underway with efficiencies several orders of magnitude

Researchers from the ARC Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) in the University of Sydney's Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology have made a breakthrough achieving radio frequency signal control at sub-nanosecond time scales on a chip-scale optical device.

Researchers David Marpaung, Benjamin Eggleton, Yang Liu and Amol Choudhary pointing at a thumbnail-size chip being evaluated in the broadband microwave testbed, inside the Sydney Nanoscience Hub.

Credit: University of Sydney

Radio frequency (RF) is a particular range of electromagnetic wave frequencies, widely used for communications and radar signals. The work should impact the current wireless revolution.

The breakthrough was detailed today in the high-impact journal Optica.

CUDOS and School of Physics PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, lead author Yang Liu, said the new research that could unlock the bandwidth bottleneck faced by wireless networks worldwide was undertaken at the headquarters of the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST), the $150m Sydney Nanoscience Hub.

"Nowadays, there are 10 billion mobile devices connected to the wireless network (reported by Cisco last year) and all require bandwidth and capacity," Mr Liu said.

"By creating very fast tunable delay lines on chip, one eventually can provide broader bandwidth instantaneously to more users.

"The ability of rapidly controlling RF signal is a crucial performance for applications in both our daily life and defence.

"For example, to reduce power consumption and maximize reception range for future mobile communications, RF signals need to achieve directional and fast distributions to different cellular users from information centres, instead of spreading signal energy in all directions."

The lack of the high tuning speed in current RF technique in modern communications and defence, has motivated the development of solutions on a compact optical platform.

These optical counterparts had been typically limited in performance by a low tuning speed on the order of milliseconds (1/1000 of a second) offered by on-chip heaters, with side effects of fabrication complexity and power consumption.

"To circumvent these problems, we developed a simple technique based on optical control with response time faster than one nanosecond: a billionth of a second -- this is a million times faster than thermal heating," said Mr Liu.

CUDOS Director and co-author Professor Benjamin Eggleton, who also heads the Nanoscale Photonics Circuits AINST flagship, said the technology would not only be important for building more efficient radars to detect enemy attacks but would also make significant improvements for everyone.

"Such a system will be crucial not only to safeguard our defence capabilities, it will also help foster the so-called wireless revolution -- where more and more devices are connected to the wireless network," Professor Eggleton said.

"This includes the internet of things, fifth generation (5G) communications, and smart home and smart cities.

"Silicon photonics, the technology that underpins this advance, is progressing very quickly, finding applications in datacentres right now.

"We expect the applications of this work will happen within a decade in order to provide a solution to the wireless bandwdith problem.

"We are currently working on the more advanced silicon devices that are highly integrated and can be used in small mobile devices," Professor Eggleton said.

By optically varying the control signal at gigahertz speeds, the time delay of the RF signal can be amplified and switched at the same speed.

Mr Liu and fellow researchers Dr Amol Choudhary, Dr David Marpaung and Professor Eggleton achieved this on an integrated photonic chip, paving the way towards ultrafast and reconfigurable on-chip RF systems with unmatched advantages in compactness, low power consumption, low fabrication complexity, flexibility and compatibility with existing RF functionalities.


The research builds on research supported by the Australian Research Council through CUDOS, a Centre of Excellence headquartered at the University of Sydney.

Find out more at

Media Contact

Vivienne Reiner


Vivienne Reiner | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products

23.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Sensitive grip

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

No compromises: Combining the benefits of 3D printing and casting

23.03.2018 | Process Engineering

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>