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Cleaning Up Data Pulses On-Chip for Optical Communications

Signal regeneration is a critical technique used in optical telecommunication systems to restore data signals that are degraded due to propagating long distances through optical fibers. This degradation leads to increase in the errors in the the transmission of information and to a reduction in the rate at which this data can be transferred. By using a nonlinear optical process known as four-wave mixing on a Silicon chip, the quality of the signals can be significantly improved and the error rate can be greatly reduced.  Demonstrating this process in silicon yields many advantages over other platforms such as potential integration with electronic circuits, simple and low-cost fabrication process, and the potential to operate at extremely high data rates.

Traces of optical data pulses that have undergone distortion after propagating through 20 km of optical fiber (left). Restored optical pulses after having been processed by the silicon regenerator device (right)

[Lead CNS Investigator: Lipson and Gaeta – Nanophotonics Thrust, Center for Nanoscale Systems]

For additional information see:
R. Salem, M. A. Foster, A. C. Turner, D. F. Geraghty, M. Lipson, and A. L. Gaeta, “Signal regeneration using low-power four-wave mixing on silicon chip,” Nature Photonics 2, 35 (2008).

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