High speed IC designs for low power short reach optical links

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Zhou, Shiyu
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University College Cork
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In this thesis, I have briefly introduced the background of my PhD research, current state-of-the-art design, and my PhD research objectives. Then, I demonstrate how to optimize the performance of PAM-4 transmitters based on lumped Silicon Photonic Mach-Zehnder Modulators (MZMs) for short-reach optical links. Firstly, we analyze the trade-off that occurs between extinction ratio and modulation loss when driving an MZM with a voltage swing less than the MZM’s Vπ. This is important when driver circuits are realized in deep submicron CMOS process nodes. Next, a driving scheme based upon a switched capacitor approach is proposed to maximize the achievable bandwidth of the combined lumped MZM and CMOS driver chip. This scheme allows the use of lumped MZM for high speed optical links with reduced RF driver power consumption compared to the conventional approach of driving MZMs (with transmission line based electrodes) with a power amplifier. This is critical for upcoming short-reach link standards such as 400Gb/s 802.3 Ethernet. The driver chip was fabricated using a 65nm CMOS technology and flip-chipped on top of the Silicon Photonic chip (fabricated using IMEC’s ISIPP25G technology) that contains the MZM. Open eyes with 4dB extinction ratio for a 36Gb/s (18Gbaud) PAM- 4 signal are experimentally demonstrated. The electronic driver chip has a core area of only 0.11mm 2 and consumes 236mW from 1.2V and 2.4V supply voltages. This corresponds to an energy efficiency of 6.55pJ/bit including Gray encoder and retiming, or 5.37pJ/bit for the driver circuit only. In the future, system level analysis should be carried out to investigate the critical pattern issue of the PAM4 optical transmitter. The potential solutions toward 1pJ/bit are given (lumped EAM and micro-ring modulator). In addition, the advanced modulation formats (16 QAM, discrete multitone modulation, and FFE) are presented based on the switched capacitor approach.
Integrated optoelectronic circuits , Traveling-wave devices , PAM4 , Optical transmitter , CMOS , Silicon photonics , Hybrid integration
Zhou, S. 2017. High speed IC designs for low power short reach optical links. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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