High-throughput silicon nanophotonic wavelength-insensitive switch for on-chip optical networks

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Recent advances in silicon nanophotonics, including demonstrations of ultracompact modulators1,2,3,4, germanium waveguide photodetectors5,6,7 and wavelength-division multiplexers8,9,10, indicate the feasibility of on-chip optical interconnects integrated with multicore microprocessors11,12,13,14. Studies13,14 have suggested that direct replacement of part or all of the electrical interconnect wiring with point-to-point optical links11,12 may not provide sufficient power savings to make this approach attractive to chip designers. However, if high-bandwidth optical signals can be switched and routed using an on-chip silicon nanophotonic interconnection network, significant performance gains can be expected13,14. Here we show an ultracompact (40 × 12 µm2) wavelength-insensitive switch based on cascaded silicon microring resonators, which may bring this vision closer to reality by serving as a critical basic element for scalable on-chip optical networks. Fast (<2 ns) error-free (bit error rate < 1 × 10−12) switching of multiple (up to 9) 40-Gbit s−1 optical channels is demonstrated in a temperature-insensitive (±15 °C) device.

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Figure 1: Scanning electron micrograph and drop-port transmission characteristics of the switch device.
Figure 2: Characterization of spectral and temporal switching behaviour for a single-wavelength channel.
Figure 3: Demonstration of broadband wavelength-insensitive deflection switching.
Figure 4: Characterization of BER penalties under switching operation.


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We acknowledge partial financial support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – Defense Sciences Office (DARPA DSO) Slow-Light program under contract N00014-07-C-0105. The authors are grateful to C. Schow for help with BER and eye-diagram measurements and much useful advice.

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Correspondence to Yurii Vlasov.

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Numerical modeling of deflection switch operation (PDF 134 kb)

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Vlasov, Y., Green, W. & Xia, F. High-throughput silicon nanophotonic wavelength-insensitive switch for on-chip optical networks. Nature Photon 2, 242–246 (2008) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2008.31

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