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High Speed Integrated Circuits for High Speed Coherent Optical Communications


With the development of (sub) THz transistor technologies, high speed integrated circuits up to sub-THz frequencies are now feasible. These high speed and wide bandwidth ICs can improve the performance of optical components, coherent optical fiber communication, and imaging systems. In current optical systems, electrical ICs are used primarily as driving amplifiers for optical modulators, and in receiver chains including TIAs, AGCs, LPFs, ADCs and DSPs. However, there are numerous potential applications in optics using high speed ICs, and different approaches may be required for more efficient, compact and flexible optical systems.

This dissertation will discuss three different approaches for optical components and communication systems using high speed ICs: a homodyne optical phase locked loop (OPLL), a heterodyne OPLL, and a new WDM receiver architecture.

The homodyne OPLL receiver is designed for short-link optical communication systems using coherent modulation for high spectral efficiency. The phase-locked coherent receiver can recover the transmitted data without requiring complex back-end digital signal processing to recover the phase of the received optical carrier. The main components of the homodyne OPLL are a photonic IC (PIC), an electrical IC (EIC), and a loop filter. One major challenge in OPLL development is loop bandwidth; this must be of order 1 GHz in order for the loop to adequately track and suppress the phase fluctuations of the locked laser, yet a 1 GHz loop bandwidth demands small (<100 ps) propagation delays if the loop is to be stable. Monolithic integration of the high-speed loop components into one electrical and one photonic IC decreases the total loop delay. We have designed and demonstrated an OPLL with a compact size of 10 × 10 mm2, stably operating with a loop bandwidth of 1.1 GHz, a loop delay of 120 ps, a pull-in time of 0.55 μs and lock time of <10 ns. The coherent receiver can receive 40 Gb/s BPSK data with a bit error rate (BER) of <10-7, and operates up to 35 Gb/s with BER 10-12.

The thesis also describes heterodyne OPLLs. These can be used to synthesize optical wavelengths of a broad bandwidth (optical wavelength synthesis) with narrow linewidth and with fast frequency switching. There are many applications of such narrow linewidth optical signal sources, including low phase noise mm-wave and THz-signal sources, wavelength-division-multiplexed optical transmitters, and coherent imaging and sensor systems. The heterodyne OPLL also has the same stability issues (loop delay and sensitivity) as the homodyne OPLL. In the EIC, a single sideband mixer operating using digital design principles (DSSBM) enables precisely controlled sweeping of the frequency of the locked laser, with control of the sign of the frequency offset. The loop's phase and frequency difference detector (PFD) uses digital design techniques to make the OPLL loop parameters only weakly sensitive to optical signal levels or optical or electrical component gains. The heterodyne OPLL operates stably with a loop bandwidth of 550 MHz and loop delay of <200 ps. An initial OPLL design exhibited optical frequency (wavelength) synthesis from -6 GHz to -2 GHz and from 2 GHz to 9 GHz. An improved OPLL reached frequency tuning up to 25 GHz. The homodyne OPLL exhibits -110 dBc/Hz phase noise at 10 MHz offset and -80 dBc/Hz at 5 kHz offset.

Finally, the thesis describes a new WDM receiver architecture using broadband electrical ICs. In the proposed WDM receiver, a set of received signals at different optical wavelengths are mixed against a single optical local oscillator. This mixing converts the WDM channels to electrical signals in the receiver photocurrent, with each WDM signal being converted to an RF sub-carrier of different frequency. An electrical IC then separately converts each sub-carrier signal to baseband using single-sideband mixers and quadrature local oscillators. The proposed receiver needs less complex hardware than the arrays of wavelength-sensitive receivers now used for WDM, and can readily adjust to changes in the WDM channel frequencies. The proposed WDM receiver concept was demonstrated through several system experiments. Image rejection of greater than 25 dB, adjacent channel suppression of greater than 20 dB, operation with gridless channels, and six-channel data reception at a total 15 Gb/s (2.5 Gb/s BPSK × 6-channels) were demonstrated.

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