Researchers create optical digital to analogue converter chip

Created February 8, 2021
Applications and Research

Researchers at the George Washington University (GW) and University of California, Los Angeles, have developed and demonstrated for the first time a photonic digital to analogue converter without leaving the optical domain. They say such novel converters can advance next-generation data processing hardware with high relevance for data centres, 6G networks, artificial intelligence and more. Current optical networks, through which most of the world’s data is transmitted, as well as many sensors, require a digital-to-analogue conversion, which links digital systems synergistically to analogue components.

Using a silicon photonic chip platform, Volker J. Sorger, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at GW, and his colleagues have created a digital-to-analogue converter that does not require the signal to be converted in the electrical domain, thus showing the potential to satisfy the demand for high data-processing capabilities while acting on optical data, interfacing to digital systems, and performing in a compact footprint, with both short signal delay and low power consumption.

“We found a way to seamlessly bridge the gap that exists between these two worlds, analogue and digital,” Sorger said. “This device is a key stepping stone for next-generation data processing hardware.”

The study, “Electronic Bottleneck Suppression in Next-Generation Networks with Integrated Photonic Digital-to-Analogue Converters,” is available here. This work was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Navy Research.

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.