Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Photonics: Better optical fiber networks

A new architecture for optical fiber networks promises more cost-efficient fiber-optic networks for the consumer market

The household demand for increased internet bandwidth has grown tremendously because of the popularity of data-intensive internet activities such as movie streaming. Conventional copper telephone lines struggle to meet this demand, and modern optical fiber networks connecting the homes of consumers to the network backbone are becoming necessary.

Jing Zhang and co-workers at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics have now demonstrated a network scheme that considerably reduces the cost of fiber-optic installations and could make them more attractive for consumer use[1].

A key component of any optical fiber network is the laser that transmits information down the fiber. Unlike the silicon-based electronic circuits that control the data flow through the network, these lasers are made from semiconductor materials other than silicon, which is a poor light-emitter. This makes integrating lasers with silicon electronic circuits cumbersome and expensive, and so reducing the number of lasers in the network could substantially lower the cost of connecting users to the internet.

One widely adopted scheme for reducing the number of expensive lasers in the network is to transmit data to multiple homes at once using a single laser, with a transmission protocol ensuring that the correct data packet is sent to the correct user. Yet although this configuration reduces the number of lasers considerably, each connected household still needs a laser to send data back the other way.

The network architecture proposed by Zhang and his co-workers eliminates the laser at the consumer end. Instead, they propose using two strands of optical fiber: one to transmit data to the consumer as usual and another to send a continuous laser beam to all linked consumers. An integrated silicon chip at the consumer end picks up the incoming continuous laser beam, encodes it with the signal intended for back transmission, and then redirects this laser beam back to the internet provider. “Fiber is cheaper than lasers, particularly as it can be used for more than 20 years once it is installed,” says Zhang.

In their experiment, the researchers also demonstrated the practical viability of this scheme for the operation of commercial fiber-optic networks. They fabricated an integrated silicon circuit for this task and have already achieved successful operation at speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. “Given the cost benefits, these transceiver devices may significantly accelerate the deployment of optical fiber networks,” says Zhang. “Our work has attracted serious commercial interest for collaboration on the development of silicon photonic transceivers.”

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Microelectronics

Journal information

[1] Zhang, J., Liow, T.-Y., Lo, G.-Q. & Kwong, D.-L. 10Gbps monolithic silicon FTTH transceiver without laser diode for a new PON configuration. Optics Express 18, 5135–5141 (2010).

Lee Swee Heng | Research asia research news
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>