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WP4: Smart light processing

Friday 22 February 2013, by Alexandra Peereboom

Nowadays, heat dissipation is one of the main limiting factors on the performance of large telecommunication systems. The evolution towards all-optical data processing opens up the striking possibility to get rid of cooling systems in telecom networks. This quest towards unprecedented performances brings with it new challenges, such as storing light to process packet-based optical traffic or cascading low power devices in photonics integrated circuits.
Motivated by these contemporary challenges, we will develop new solutions for switching, modulation, storage, and directing of light. On the one hand, basic theoretical and experimental studies will be carried out to better understand the dynamics of nonlinear optical systems, notably in the presence of delayed feedback, noise or as regard to boundary effects. These fundamental studies will, on the other hand, be inspired and guided by a series of more practical objectives. In doing so, we will bring together all the competences of the IAP partners ranging from nonlinear dynamics to device manufacturing.

4.1 Identify and study basic nonlinear dynamical schemes.

We will study optical nonlinear effects in various systems at different scales, in order to identify dynamical mechanisms of interest for applications. Important topics include quantum dot lasers, wavelength tunable lasers and cavity solitons.

4.2 Switching.

Using the materials developed elsewhere in the project, we will implement switching mechanisms aiming for the ultra fast or the ultra-compact with record-low power consumption. Thirdly, we want to combine these elements into complex logical gates with the aim of making Photonic Integrated Circuits for ultra-high speed optical signal processing.

4.3 Modulating.

Ultrafast modulation will be realised, both by using electro-optic materials such as BaTiO3 or PbZrTiO3 (PZT), and by building an all-optical clock based on a new feedback mechanism that appears in a double pass cavity.

4.4 Storing.

Cavity solitons have been demonstrated in nonlinear optical cavities. We will study experimentally their behavior under a delayed feedback in VCSELs and their use as buffers for ultra-high repetition-rate optical data streams in integrated ring cavities.

4.5 Directing.

Current methods to direct or focus light in everyday applications are mainly based on mechanical motions. We will investigate all-optical solutions based on Liquid Crystal and photorefractive materials.