Researchers turn to sound to speed up photonic chips

Scientists say they can skirt the use of local laser oscillators with a glass filter.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

A team from the University of Sydney, Monash Univeristy, and Australian National University has developed a carrier recovery technique that makes use of sound within photonic chips.

"Our technique uses the interaction of photons and acoustic waves to enable an increase in signal capacity and therefore speed," said Dr Elias Giacoumidis, previously of the University of Sydney and now from the Dublin City University.

"This allows for the successful extraction and regeneration of the signal for electronic processing at very high speed."

The University of Sydney said an incoming photonic signal is processed by a chalcogenide glass filter that has "acoustic properties that allows a photonic pulse to 'capture' the incoming information and transport it on the chip to be processed into electronic information" and skirts the need for local laser oscillators and signal processing.

Dr Amol Choudhary of the University of Sydney Nano Institute said it allows for processing speeds to increase by microseconds.

"While this doesn't sound a lot, it will make a huge difference in high-speed services, such as the financial sector and emerging e-health applications," he said.

"Our demonstration device using stimulated Brillouin scattering has produced a record-breaking narrowband of about 265 megahertz bandwidth for carrier signal extraction and regeneration. This narrow bandwidth increases the overall spectral efficiency and therefore overall capacity of the system."

In a paper published in Optica, the team said it was able to get up to 117Gbps self-coherent optical orthogonal frequency-division multiplexed signals without oscillation.

The team said it is now going to prototype receiver chips for testing.

At the end of last year, the University of Sydney announced that it had developed a method for reducing the background noise collected by quantum sensors that is up to 100 million times better than conventional methods.

"By applying the right quantum controls to a qubit [quantum bit]-based sensor, we can adjust its response in a way that guarantees the best possible exclusion of the background clutter," professor Michael J Biercuk said at the time.

Biercuk added that in certain situations, the new methods are up to 100 million times better.

Earlier this week, the university announced a successful experiment of its Red Belly Blockchain, developed with Data61.

The blockchain was deployed to 14 AWS regions and handled 30,000 transactions per second from different geographic regions, demonstrating an average transaction latency of three seconds, with 1,000 replicas.

"Real-world applications of blockchain have been struggling to get off the ground due to issues with energy consumption and complexities induced by the proof of work," senior researcher at Data61 and head of the Concurrent Systems Research Group Dr Vincent Gramoli said.

"The deployment of Red Belly Blockchain on AWS shows the unique scalability and strength of the next-generation ledger technology in a global context."

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Amol Choudhary and Ben Eggleton stand in a lab in the Sydney Nano Hub.

(Image: Louise M Cooper/University of Sydney)
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