Hybrid optical integration project to develop modules for optical networks

MAY 23, 2008 -- Led by the Centre for Integrated Photonics (CIP), the EU FP7 APACHE project aims to develop photonic 'monolithic-on-hybrid' chips that provide high-performance, high-speed data communications and reduce carbon footprints.

MAY 23, 2008 -- The Centre for Integrated Photonics (search for CIP) today announced its participation in the new EU FP7 APACHE project. The three-year research project will be partly funded by the EU, which is contributing 3 million Euros, and will plug a major gap in the optical module roadmap--the lack of cost-effective, high-performance, multi-channel components for high-speed optical communications systems, such as the emerging 100-Gigabit Ethernet (100-GbE), say EU FP7 APACHE representatives.Â
 
Called APACHE (Agile Photonic Integrated Systems-on-Chip Enabling WDM Terabit Networks), the new project will develop novel compact and scalable photonic integrated components capable of generating, regenerating, and receiving amplitude- (OOK) and phase- (DPSK, QPSK) encoded optical signals for high-capacity (> 100-Gbit/sec) WDM networks.
 
APACHE says it aims to build on the advances in hybrid photonic integration techniques by assembling arrays of high-performance monolithic InP devices onto a common planar silica hybrid integration platform using passive alignment.
 
"Hybrid integration of photonic arrays is key to realising practical, scalable, high-performance optical modules, since only this approach allows optimisation of the optical, electrical and thermal performance," explains the project's technical manager, Dr. Graeme Maxwell. "Adopting a 'monolithic on hybrid' approach also reduces costs, especially with increasing scale, since the piece-parts for assembly can be yielded at a much earlier stage of the manufacturing process compared to the fully monolithic approach," he says.
 
The optical subsystems that are being developed under APACHE will take hybrid integrated photonic technology and extend it to meet the emerging performance requirements of next-generation optical networks. "Reducing the power and footprint of optical subsystems is becoming increasingly important as optical networks grow to meet expanding data capacity requirements," notes Maxwell. "APACHE aims to target power reduction by developing uncooled active optoelectronic arrays that do not greatly sacrifice optical performance."
 
In addition, different optical network topologies such as point-to-point, ring, and mesh with ROADM functionality, different traffic load and growth predictions will be considered. This analysis will be used to identify possible schemes for incorporation of the developed APACHE modules into new DWDM system architectures.
 
The APACHE project brings together a consortium that spans the optical networks supply chain, ensuring that the technologies under development can be realised commercially and will satisfy a real application need. Consortium partners include optical component and subsystem fabricators CIP (UK) and HHI (Germany), systems vendor Ericsson (UK & Sweden), component software designer PhoeniX Software (Netherlands), and research institutions ICCS/NTUA (Greece - project co-ordinator) and AIT (Greece).
 
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