High speed nonlinear optical components for next-generation optical communications

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Cleary, Ciaran Sean
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University College Cork
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Electronic signal processing systems currently employed at core internet routers require huge amounts of power to operate and they may be unable to continue to satisfy consumer demand for more bandwidth without an inordinate increase in cost, size and/or energy consumption. Optical signal processing techniques may be deployed in next-generation optical networks for simple tasks such as wavelength conversion, demultiplexing and format conversion at high speed (≥100Gb.s-1) to alleviate the pressure on existing core router infrastructure. To implement optical signal processing functionalities, it is necessary to exploit the nonlinear optical properties of suitable materials such as III-V semiconductor compounds, silicon, periodically-poled lithium niobate (PPLN), highly nonlinear fibre (HNLF) or chalcogenide glasses. However, nonlinear optical (NLO) components such as semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs), electroabsorption modulators (EAMs) and silicon nanowires are the most promising candidates as all-optical switching elements vis-à-vis ease of integration, device footprint and energy consumption. This PhD thesis presents the amplitude and phase dynamics in a range of device configurations containing SOAs, EAMs and/or silicon nanowires to support the design of all optical switching elements for deployment in next-generation optical networks. Time-resolved pump-probe spectroscopy using pulses with a pulse width of 3ps from mode-locked laser sources was utilized to accurately measure the carrier dynamics in the device(s) under test. The research work into four main topics: (a) a long SOA, (b) the concatenated SOA-EAMSOA (CSES) configuration, (c) silicon nanowires embedded in SU8 polymer and (d) a custom epitaxy design EAM with fast carrier sweepout dynamics. The principal aim was to identify the optimum operation conditions for each of these NLO device configurations to enhance their switching capability and to assess their potential for various optical signal processing functionalities. All of the NLO device configurations investigated in this thesis are compact and suitable for monolithic and/or hybrid integration.
Silicon nanowire , Semiconductor optical amplifier , Electroabsorption modulator
Cleary, C. S. 2013. High speed nonlinear optical components for next-generation optical communications. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.