València, Spain--Researchers from Spain, the Netherlands, and Canada have created a very small indium phosphide (InP)-based integrated optical chip for telecom optical routers that directly routes spectral-amplitude-coded optical packets at a 155 Mbit/s rate.1 This rate is 100 times faster than for currently available label-swapping subsystems, say the researchers. The group consists of scientists from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), the Eindhoven University of Technology (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), and McGill University (Montreal, QC, Canada).
The new chip is 4.8 x1.5 mm in size, or about 100,000 times smaller than conventional label-swapping subsystems, and is the first monolithically integrated routing chip. The new design is based on a general-purpose integration technology that does not result in additional costs to the production lines of existing integrated-optical-circuit foundries.
In optical communications, information is divided into small packets, each of which may follow a different path from source to destination to optimize the use of available resources. These packets must be routed so that, regardless of the path that each of them follows, they all reach their destination in the proper order.
The key to an efficient routing of these packets lies in the information on their destination, or label, which is contained in the packets, and which must be processed in the intermediate nodes of the network. Currently, doing so requires converting optical information to an electrical format, which involves two major problems: first, all information has to be converted whether or not it is needed; and secondly, electrical processing capacity is limited in speed. An all-optical routing chip solves these problems.
The capability created at the UPV for the production of this and other integrated optical circuits has been transferred to the company VLC Photonics SL, a recently created UPV spin-off in València.
1. P. Muñoz et al., Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue 14, p. 13540 (2011); doi:10.1364/OE.19.013540.Follow us on TwitterSubscribe now to Laser Focus World magazine; it’s free!