Next‐Generation Networks With Integrated Photonic Digital‐To‐Analog Converters

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Researchers create a photonic digital to analog converter in the optical domain for high data-processing capabilities.

In modern data processing systems, there is a need for both low-latency access and efficient processing of data to perform computational tasks closer to the edge of the network. However, there are limitations from connections and interfaces at its edge, that is, input/output (I/O) to and from digital systems or sensors require a digital-to-analog conversion (DAC) and vice versa (ADC), and second, electronic-to-optical (EO) conversion and vice versa (OE), which are typically the most power-consuming elements in a typical high-speed DSP-based optical data link.

Photonic integrated circuits interfaces with digital systems, and it can satisfy the demand for high data-processing capabilities while acting on optical data, and performing in a compact footprint, with both low latency and power consumption. However, the throughput and power consumption of both digital and analog signal processing systems are constrained by CMOS technology.

Researchers from George Washington University and University of California, Los Angeles, have developed a photonic digital to analog converter without leaving the optical domain. The researchers have created a digital-to-analog converter that does not require the signal to be converted in the electrical domain.

“We found a way to seamlessly bridge the gap that exists between these two worlds, analog and digital,” Volker J. Sorger, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at GW, said. “This device is a key stepping stone for next-generation data processing hardware.”

The novel converters developed by the researchers can advance next-generation data processing hardware with high relevance for data centers, 6G networks, artificial intelligence and more.

The work is described in the journal Advanced Photonics Research.


 

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