The new design will make fiber optic communications more energy efficient

The new design will make fiber optic communications more energy efficient

  • 2020-05-03
  • Views:1

The new design will make fiber optic communications more energy efficient

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  • 2020-05-03
  • Views:1

Researchers say new findings from a U.S. army optoelectronic equipment program could help make fiber-optic communications more energy efficient.
The university of Pennsylvania, Peking University and the Massachusetts institute of technology are part of a project funded in part by the army research office, part of the army research laboratory at the army's combat capability development command. The study seeks to develop a new optical device design that can radiate light in a single direction. This one - sided radiation channel for light can be used in a variety of optoelectronic applications to reduce energy losses in optical fiber networks and data centers. The results were published in the journal nature.

New optical equipment could help make fiber-optic communications more energy efficient. Photo credit: university of Pennsylvania
Light tends to flow in one direction through the fiber, just as water flows through a pipe. An on-chip coupler is used to connect optical fibers to a chip, where optical signals are generated, amplified, or detected. As most of the light passing through the coupler continues to pass through the fiber, some light travels in the opposite direction and leaks out.
Much of the energy consumption in data traffic is due to this radiation loss. Data centres account for 2 per cent of global electricity demand and demand is increasing every year.

A newly designed optical device allows light to travel in a single direction. Photo credit: university of Pennsylvania
Previous studies have consistently found that the minimum loss at each interface between the fiber and the chip is 25 percent, a theoretical upper limit that cannot be exceeded. Since data centers require a complex and interwoven system of nodes, the 25% loss can quickly multiply as light travels through the network.
"In a typical mid-sized data center, you might need to pass five nodes (10 ports) to communicate with another server," says jucheng Kim, a doctoral student at the university of Pennsylvania. . "In fact, additional energy and components are required to amplify and relay the signal over and over again, which introduces noise, reduces the signal-to-noise ratio, and ultimately reduces the communication bandwidth."
After studying the system in more detail, the team found that breaking the left-right symmetry of the device could reduce losses to zero.
"These exciting results have the potential to spur new research investments in army systems," said Dr. Michael Gerhold, optoelectronic program manager at the army research office. "Not only does the increase in coupling efficiency have the potential to improve data communication in commercial data centers, but the results have a huge impact on the optical subsystem, where lower intensity signals can be used to calculate with the same precision, making battery-powered photonic computers possible."



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