Reflective Electro-Absorption Modulator Fills High-Bandwidth Architecture Gap

In releasing what it terms the first commercial reflective electro-absorption modulator (R-EAM), CIP Technologies (CIP) hopes to provide developers of access network and other communications applications with the means to implement new system architectures.

Among many potential applications for the R-EAM are 10-Gbit/s wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) passive optical networks (PONs), and a simple means of linking radio antennas to a high speed optical cable. The result of such an architecture would be extended coverage of high data-rate wireless technologies, giving system builders a means of pushing ultra-high-speed optical fiber networks into the consumer domain.

Operating in the C band (1550 nm), the R-EAM-1550-LS has a very low optical insertion loss of 3.5 dB typical. It will also operate with low drive voltages, and has low polarization-dependent loss (0.3 dB typical). Numerous design features on the die have been incorporated to optimize manufacturability and yield, and simplify coupling to optical fiber. Requiring only a single optical-fiber connection, the device dissipates very little power and will operate uncooled in some configurations, reducing the total electrical power for many target applications.

One of the largest potential applications for R-EAMs is in fiber-to-the-home/premises (FTTH/FTTP) access network architectures. CIP's R-EAM provides high-speed transmission capability by reflecting and modulating a "seed" light that is transmitted throughout the network, and will comfortably operate at data rates up to 10 Gbit/s as will be needed in next-generation optical access networks. Light from the multi-wavelength seed source can be split into different wavelengths easily for use in different segments of the network by means of an arrayed waveguide grating (AWG).

A second major application for R-EAMs can be found in wireless networks. R-EAMs make it possible to extend the coverage of a wireless access point with a network of remote antennas. For example, a single fiber-optic cable could easily support 32 antennas operating on different wavelengths, providing a low-cost means of extending the coverage of short-range, high-data-rate wireless technologies around a building or plant. Because of the passive way in which R-EAMs can operate, the cost of remote nodes in this application could be extremely small, as in their simplest form they can be fabricated with just a R-EAM and a simple antenna and operate without any need for local power. As the R-EAM will also operate as a photodiode, these passive nodes can provide both uplink and downlink capabilities.

The InP R-EAM-1550-LS suits high-volume production and is available immediately in small volumes for development and trials. It is available in a butterfly package with thermoelectric cooler.

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