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Single-source chip-based frequency comb enabling extreme parallel data transmission


The Internet today transmits hundreds of terabits per second, consumes 9% of all electricity worldwide and grows by 20–30% per year1,2. To support capacity demand, massively parallel communication links are installed, not scaling favourably concerning energy consumption. A single frequency comb source may substitute many parallel lasers and improve system energy-efficiency3,4. We present a frequency comb realized by a non-resonant aluminium-gallium-arsenide-on-insulator (AlGaAsOI) nanowaveguide with 66% pump-to-comb conversion efficiency, which is significantly higher than state-of-the-art resonant comb sources. This enables unprecedented high data-rate transmission for chip-based sources, demonstrated using a single-mode 30-core fibre. We show that our frequency comb can carry 661 Tbit s–1 of data, equivalent to more than the total Internet traffic today. The comb is obtained by seeding the AlGaAsOI chip with 10-GHz picosecond pulses at a low pump power (85 mW), and this scheme is robust to temperature changes, is energy efficient and facilitates future integration with on-chip lasers or amplifiers5,6.

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Fig. 1: AlGaAsOI photonic chip.
Fig. 2: Frequency comb broadening in an AlGaAsOI nanowaveguide.
Fig. 3: Generation and transmission of multi-100 Tbit s–1 data carried by the AlGaAsOI SPM-based frequency comb.
Fig. 4: 661 Tbit s–1 data transmission using chip-based frequency comb source.


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This work was funded by the Silicon Photonics for Optical Communications (SPOC) research center of excellence (DNRF123), the Nanophotonics for Terabit Communications (NATEC) Villum center of excellence and the European Union–Japan coordinated R&D project on “Scalable And Flexible optical Architecture for Reconfigurable Infrastructure (SAFARI)” commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), Japan and the European Commission Horizon 2020. H.H. acknowledges P.-Y. Bony for help with the linewidth measurement.

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Authors and Affiliations



H.H. conceived and designed the experiments. F.D.R. and E.P.d.S. conducted digital signal processing for the transmitted data. M.P. designed the AlGaAs device. H.H., F.D.R., F.Y., K.I. and M.N performed the transmission experiment. H.H., F.D.R and M.P. analysed the data. M.P., L.O., E.S. and K.Y. fabricated the AlGaAs device. H.H. and M.P. characterized the AlGaAs device. F.Y., Y.A., Y.S. and T.Mi. designed the multicore fibre. Y.A. and Y.S. fabricated the multicore fibre. T.Mi., Y.M., P.G., D.Z., M.G., L.K.O. and T.Mo. contributed to the experiment. H.H. and L.K.O. wrote the manuscript and all the co-authors contributed to the writing. Y.M., K.Y., T.Mo. and L.K.O. supervised the projects.

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Correspondence to Hao Hu.

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Hu, H., Da Ros, F., Pu, M. et al. Single-source chip-based frequency comb enabling extreme parallel data transmission. Nature Photon 12, 469–473 (2018).

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