In this research a novel ultrafast optical word generator, or parallel-electronic to serial-optical converter, will be demonstrated. This optical word generator functionality may be important for example for converting parallel words of computer data into a serial format suitable for transmission onto ultrafast time-division multiplexed (TDM) fiber interconnection networks. The proposed approach uses the parallel processing capabilities of optics to generate data streams consisting of sequences of ultrashort optical pulses at rates substantially faster than the speeds of individual electronic and optoelectronic devices. This research is expected to impact both optical time-division-multiplexed (TDM) data communications systems and networks operating at rates of ~100 Gb/s and above, as well as hybrid wavelength-division-multiplexed / time-division multiplexed (WDM-TDM) transmission, networking, and processing systems working at even higher rates.
In order to realize the optical word generator, three main technologies will be investigated, as follows:
Direct space-to-time pulse shapers, which are optical systems capable of converting one-dimensional spatial images directly into corresponding ultrafast time-domain data sequences.
Optoelectronic modulator arrays, which provide the spatial image needed by the pulse shaper. In particular, optoelectronic modulator arrays providing rapid reprogrammability (~Gb/s) for compatibility with the needs of modern high-speed packet networks, high on-off contrast, and operation in the 1.55 micron fiber optic wavelength band will be developed.
Arrayed waveguide grating devices, which are integrated optical components commonly used forseparation or routing of independent wavelength channels in WDM optical communications. In particular, modified arrayed waveguide grating devices will be demonstrate that function as integrated direct space-to-time pulse shapers.
By combining these technologies, a compact and novel module capable of generating sequences of ultrashort pulses (ultrafast optical words) with the ability to reprogram at GHz rates will be realized.